Early Voting, Coastal Carolina Style

Politics, US Elections, US Politics
Approaching the New Hanover County Senior Center

Approaching the New Hanover County Senior Center

Visit Wilmington, North Carolina in the fall and you’ll never leave.  Saturday, November 1 was a bright, crisp day with temperatures climbing into the mid-70’s under a clear blue sky.  It was also the last day for early voting.  I stopped by the New Hanover Senior Center to check out the action and I was amazed.  The line snaked through the grounds and staffers and volunteers were telling newcomers to expect a three hour wait.  I waved to three guys carrying “Vote for Jesus” signs as I was coming in.  A woman with a McCain bumper sticker on her chest was handing out handbills.  Cars were winding in and out of the crowds looking for parking and staffers were reading instructions to voters waiting to get in the building.

A Partisan Reminder to Vote for President for Straight Party Voters

A Partisan Reminder to Vote for President if Voting Straight Party

North Carolina’s ballot has been the topic of national conversation recently since for some reason a straight party vote in North Carolina does not include a vote for President (or judges). While I’ve always found the ballot very clear about this, in 2004 92,000 ballots were cast without a Presidential pick selected.  With all the new voters this year, every election site is making a special effort to ensure every voter understands the rules.

Lucia on her 15th day at the Polls

I struck up a conversation with Lucia, a volunteer with the Democratic Party.  This is her fifteenth day working the site.  She bemoans the lack of support from election officials and local police as cars try to make their way around all the voters walking the grounds.  North Carolina has seen a huge turnout for early voting with 1.7 million voters (30% of all registered NC voters) casting ballots by last Thursday.  Based on my conversation with Lucia, it’s going to be a lot higher by the time the day ends.  While the state allowed counties to stay open until five today, New Hanover county chose to close at one, causing a crush of voters trying to get into line before the deadline.  The stated goal was to allow the poll workers to get home early since Tuesday will be a long day, but there’s no way this line will be gone before 4:00.  Lucia has been helping voters, telling the elderly and infirm about curbside voting options and generally trying to keep things moving.  She worked in the Carter administration and has been active in the Democratic Party ever since, but she’s never seen the energy level she’s seeing this year.  “We’ve registered so many voters this year.  More than… well, more than history.”  But the crowd is well behaved and patient so Lucia and I take a few minutes to chat politics and she finds me a replacement for my Obama yard sign that disappeared a couple of days ago.  Cars driving down nearby College Road occasionally yell out encouragement for their candidate and everyone seems seems caught up in the excitement.  Plus the weather is gorgeous and it’s supposed to rain on Tuesday.

Long Lines at the Polls

Long Lines at the Polls

Cheering on McCain



  1. sozobe  •  Nov 2, 2008 @8:59 am

    Very cool! Thanks, engineer.

  2. nimh  •  Nov 3, 2008 @10:40 am

    Great read, I love these reports ‘from the ground’.

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