Early voters pleased to avoid long lines at polls

By Julie Fann
star staff

Early voters on Wednesday said avoiding long lines was their pre-eminent reason for strolling to the polls early. Early voting comes to an end Saturday at noon, and Election Commission Secretary Sam Q. Ritchie said it has been an ideal experience.
   "It's going just perfect. We had 3,073 early voters as of last night. We're having more voters this time. Anytime you have 118 people on the ballot, you have a big turnout," Ritchie said. At 1 p.m. yesterday, Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris said 238 residents had voted.
   "I came early to avoid the crowds. I hope it's heavy early voting. We need to elect people who are really knowledgeable and willing to work hard, especially for education and with the state's financial problems," said Carter County voter Carol Williams.
   Most residents leaving the polls said they believe this election is an important one due to so many candidates vying for the same office. One man, who wished to remain anonymous, said that, though he isn't excited about any of the races, he believes it's important to vote.
   "It's a right that should be exercised. I believe that if you don't vote, then you don't have a right to complain about who gets elected to office," he said.
   Teresa Cornett came out to early vote because the County Executive race is important to her. She said one particular candidate she voted for attends her church.
   According to Harris, her office received 33 more mail-in ballots yesterday. "I'm logging them on the poll sheet to confirm that they were returned," Harris said.
   The Election Commission had mailed ballots to over 530 citizens for absentee voting, said Deputy Administrator Laura Holtsclaw. Holtsclaw said 333 county citizens have received ballots by mail for the general election, and 331 absentee ballots had been sent for the Republican and Democratic primaries.
   Over 19,300 Carter County citizens -- roughly 65 percent of the county's registered voters -- cast ballots in the 2000 presidential election.
   Citizens are voting for county officials in the general election as well as state and federal representatives and senators in the Republican and Democratic primaries. Harris said her office had registered 30,983 county citizens as voters for the upcoming election.