Americans -- and Wayne County -- get up early today to cast their votes
By Steve Herring, Ty Johnson and Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 6, 2012 1:46 PM
Lee Borden exits the polling place at Faith Alliance Church after casting his vote this morning. Voting was steady around the county.
Voters cast their ballots at Oak Forest Church of Christ this morning.
Doug Wiggins of Mount Olive Tuesday morning adds to the number of candidate signs lining the sidewalk leading to the polling site in the Mount Olive Civic Center. The polls opened countywide today at 6:30 a.m. and will remain open until 7:30 p.m.
Election personnel get ready for voters early this morning at First African Church on Harris Street. Although the turnout was not huge, many county residents got up early to make sure their votes were cast across the county.
Voters sat on the covered walkway at the old train depot in Mount Olive in the pre-dawn chill this morning waiting for the polls to open. Over at the old Carver High School polling site, a handful of voters stayed inside their cars until the polls opened at 6:30 a.m.
It was a scene repeated across Wayne County as voters headed to the polls to decide races from the county courthouse to the White House.
At First African Baptist Church just before 8 a.m., there was plenty of parking and no waiting to cast a vote. It also was quiet at Westwood United Methodist Church, with about 40 voters trickling in before 8 a.m.
Farther north, however, the Pikeville Fire Station had a wealth of activity as Pikeville residents turned out en masse to vote, often with friends and family members in tow.
The polls will remain open until 7:30 p.m.
Just over 51 percent -- 35,642 -- of the county's 69,785 registered voters had already voted prior to today during the one-stop early voting period that ended Saturday.
At the Civic Center in Mount Olive, the few campaigners on hand prior to 8 a.m. talked among themselves, particularly about the one-stop voting totals, pausing from time to time to pass out candidate information.
At one point, about 20 people were in line, but quickly moved through the polling place.
There was no early-morning crowd at the former Carver school, where Yvonne Chestnut had been waiting in her car since 6:15 a.m.
"I am up every morning at 5 a.m., taking my husband to work.," she said. "I said, 'I am up, I am going to stay up and go do my duty.' I am strong believer, I am an opinionated person so if you don't vote you are not voicing your opinion. That is the way I feel.
"A lot of people say, 'My one vote won't count.' Your one vote will count. If you don't vote, you don't have any right to say, 'Well, he shouldn't have won, he should have won.' Once you put your vote in, you are voting your opinion, then."
Mrs. Chestnut said she did not mind the wait for the polls to open.
"I didn't want to get in that long line, too. That has happened to me before. I will beat that long line."
She said that a mixture of issues has her attention in this election.
"I am mostly concerned about the Medicare for the elderly," she said. "That is my biggest focus. I am 53, so I have a little bit longer, but I am mostly concerned about the elderly who have already put in their time. They are already choosing between, 'Do I go grocery shopping or do I go to the doctor?' That is a tough decision to make. Just imagine if it gets worse."
Erin and Ben Lambert said they already knew who they were going to vote for before arriving at the school and that they planned to vote Republican.
Like Mrs. Chestnut, the Lamberts said that didn't mind braving the cold.
"We got here at 6," Mrs. Lambert said. "We thought the polls opened at 6. My husband needed to leave for work at 6:15 for Raleigh. That is why. I just think this is a very important election and everybody needs to come out and vote. I think it is important to vote."
Janice Wooten, poll judge at First African Baptist Church in Goldsboro, admitted the day had gotten off to a slow start.
"It started off with a lot of people for about 30 minutes," she said. "It's been slow for Precinct 19 (and) Precinct 20 wasn't very busy."
The two voting spots combined into one site this year. Precinct 19 had formerly been housed at Carver Heights Elementary School. Despite the potential for additional turnout, Ms. Wooten said many voters had likely taken advantage of the chance to cast their ballot early.
"We don't have long lines," she said. "So we're able to get them in and out."
Pamela Easley didn't let the cold or the early hour deter her, either.
"I came out before I went to work today, to make sure I didn't run into any problems," she said.
She admitted to having a little apprehension about voting early, almost like it didn't count.
More importantly, though, Election Day has become an event long shared with her mother, Mae Ola Robinson, she noted, gesturing to a woman getting into a car nearby.
"About 30 years now, it's like a tradition," Ms. Easley said. "We just always come out on Election Day.
"It's just exciting, something exciting about coming out on the day."
Louise Faison and her husband, Edward, adjusted their winter coats as they stepped back outside into the cold after turning in their ballots.
She said that she has never taken for granted having the right to vote, and always casts a vote in every category she's allowed.
"I wanted to be a part of it and I wanted to get out today to see what's happening, how many people are coming," Mrs. Faison said. "I know there are a lot of people out voting early, but I decided not to do that. I wanted to get out today."
Beverly Keen, wife of Wayne County Commissioner Steve Keen, greeted each of them during their brisk walks to the polls at Westwood United Methodist Church.
"Good morning, can I offer you a sample conservative ballot?" she asks with a handful of fliers in her hands.
Her husband is running unopposed, so she said she's focused on influencing other races in an effort to get a Republican majority on the county Board of Commissioners. Some voters accepted her sample ballots. Others politely declined.
Jennifer Gardner met her friend, Paulette Leggett, at the Pikeville polling place to vote, both citing their children, whom they had just dropped off at school, as their reasons for voting.
"It's our right. Why wouldn't you vote?" Mrs. Gardner asked. "You have to be an example with your kids."
Both Pikeville mothers had talks with their children about voting, they said.
"My daughter knew that after I dropped her off, Mommy was going to vote," Mrs. Gardner said.
For Lisa Massey, also of Pikeville, it was the culmination of many years of bringing her sons with her to vote, since now they all cast their own ballots.
She said the presidential race was what inspired her to get out today, while Tony Harris, who brought his son, Joey, for his first voting experience, said his qualms with both the state and federal governments led him to vote early.
"The way government is right now, they're strangling small businesses," he said.
Although he had already cast his ballot, Harris said he felt it was important to be there with his son as he voted for the first time, but he said excessive regulations were affecting both father and son. The elder Harris is in construction while his son is in farming.
"Something's got to change," he said. "We've got to get people back to work."