Turnout for early voting surpasses expectations
By Steve Huffman
Going into the current election season, Nancy Evans predicted 25,000 Rowan County residents would take advantage of early voting.
She was wrong. The number is going to be greater.
“We’re going to beat what I said,” said Evans, director of the Rowan County Board of Elections.
She said that as of Wednesday afternoon, a total of 21,901 Rowan County residents had cast ballots as part of early voting.
Interest is expected to peak today as early voting winds to a close Saturday in anticipation of Tuesday’s Election Day.
Most early voting polling sites will close at the end of the day Friday, though two ó the main office of the Rowan County Public Library on Fisher Street and the board of elections office on West Innes Street ó will be open until 1 p.m. Saturday.
There are approximately 90,000 registered voters in Rowan County.
Evans said she has received few complaints about early voting. She said that with rare exceptions, she hasn’t heard of anyone having to wait more than 15 minutes to vote. Most waits are of the 5-to-10-minute variety.
In other parts of the Triad, voters and election officials aren’t as lucky. National Public Radio reported that Forsyth County voters taking advantage of early voting had been left to stand in line as much as two hours.
In Raleigh, Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the State Board of Elections, said about 1.7 million voters had taken advantage of early voting as of Wednesday afternoon.
She said she expected that number to reach more than 2 million by the end of the day Saturday.
“It has gone better than we’d expected,” McLean said.
She said a mark of the success of early voting is evidenced by the slightly more than 3 million North Carolina voters who voted in the 2004 election.
By comparison, McLean said, a turnout of more than 2 million in early voting alone is quite an achievement.