RALEIGH, N.C. — Early voting in North Carolina got off to a fast start Thursday, surpassing first-day vote counts from 2008, as candidates and campaigns continued to encourage voters to hit the polls before Election Day.
Throngs of people swamped one-stop voting locations statewide and waited for up to an hour to cast ballots. In Wake County, votes outpaced 2008 numbers by nearly one and a half times.
"For a very first day of early voting, I do think we've had a much better turnout than in 2008," said Cherie Poucher, elections director for Wake County.
In 2008, 7,917 ballots were cast on the first day of early voting at five one-stop voting sites across Wake County, Poucher said. On Thursday, with three additional early voting sites, Wake County received 11,245 ballots – a 42 percent increase.
All eight early-voting sites open in Wake County on Thursday saw heavy traffic, Poucher said. Eight more will open next week, and she said she doesn't expect much of a slowdown.
"All of the campaigns have been touting vote early, vote early," she said. "I think it's going to carry through."
Final statewide numbers for Thursday's turnout won't be available until Friday morning, but ballots surpassed the 2008 first-day count of 117,372, said state Board of Elections Director Gary Bartlett.