Many North Carolina voters mark their ballots early

Published 8:55 pm Sunday, May 4, 2008

By Staff
In Beaufort County, 7.3 percent of voters utilize one-stop option
Contributing Editor
An hour before one-stop, early voting ended at the Beaufort County Board of Elections’ office on Saturday, the line of voters waiting to mark their ballots stretched into the parking lot.
When early voting ended at 1 p.m. Saturday, 2,141 Beaufort County voters had marked ballots. Of the 157 absentee ballots provided to voters who requested them, 84 had been returned by Saturday. That means that 7.3 percent of the county’s approximately 30,400 registered voters voted early as of Saturday, according to Kellie Harris Hopkins, director of the Beaufort County Board of Elections.
In 2004, 1,603 voters either voted by absentee ballots or one-stop voting, according to data from the board.
During a brief interview Saturday, Hopkins said turnout during the one-stop, early voting period was “most definitely” a record for a primary. To handle the voter turnout Saturday, five people were brought in, Hopkins said.
Polls for the May 6 primaries open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
By 11:30 a.m. Friday, 337,685 voters in North Carolina had voted early. By that same time, 18,021 absentee ballots had been returned to boards of elections across the state. Absentee ballots must be received by 5 p.m. Monday to be included in the May 6 primaries’ results.
Just before 1 p.m. in Hyde County, 90 people had marked ballots in the one-stop, early voting period that began April 17 and concluded at 1 p.m.
Portia Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Hyde County Board of Elections, said that number is “about normal” for one-stop, early voting in the county.
In Martin County shortly before 1 p.m., at least 1,450 people had voted during the one-stop, early voting period. Elections officials at the Board of Elections said by the time voters in line received and marked their ballots, about 1,500 voters would have taken advantage of the early voting opportunity.
In Washington County, 840 voters had market ballots by 12:55 p.m., according to Dora Bell, elections director. She expected that number to increase slightly by the time the 1 p.m. deadline arrived.