Carolinians line up to be heard on Election Day

From staff reportsNovember 3, 2010 

Voter turnout remained steady throughout Tuesday as people, motivated for various reasons, headed to polls in the Carolinas.

Elections officials in both states noted good voter participation and in some cases called the turnout higher than expected.

In the Myrtle Beach area, a steady flow of voters and few problems were reported.

Similar reports were made around South Carolina and in North Carolina, where State Board of Elections director Gary Bartlett said the two words he'd heard repeatedly from county officials were "steady" and "moderate."

Early Tuesday Bartlett said he expected turnout would be somewhere around 45 percent of the state's nearly 6.2 million registered voters.

By 2:10 p.m. Tuesday, about 715 people had voted at Calvary Christian School on Dick Pond Road near Socastee. Poll worker Tami Rice said there was a morning rush and since then it had been steady with about 10 to 20 people voting at one time.

When Tina Blue slowly made her way out of the polling station on crutches Tuesday, she said it was important to vote no matter what.

"We don't always get what we want, but we have to go vote, even with a bad foot and crutches," she said.

Blue and several others at Calvary Christian said they looked forward to the end of the long and often-negative campaign season. Blue said she thought all the campaigning should be compressed from six months to a two week period, she said, and will be glad when it's over no matter who wins.

A small group of people braved the cool morning before 6 a.m. to votes at Lake Park Precinct No. 158 at Socastee High School.

When the polls opened at 7 a.m., there were 35, and by 11:38 a.m., 601 people had voted and more kept coming.

"We were expecting this," said Paul Dillon, the precinct's clerk. "We have been running flat out. We expected a lull between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., but as you can see, that hasn't happened."

The line constantly snaked, often going outside the double doors of the school's cafeteria.

Voters eager to cast their ballots weren't uncommon this morning, as people began lining up at the Beach Church at 6:30 a.m., said poll manager Gwen Simmons.

"The first person arrived at 6:05," she said.

Throughout the morning, voting was steady and heavy.

At 1:30 p.m., none of the workers at the Beach Church polling place had gotten the chance to eat their lunches yet and were going to have to do so in shifts, as votes just kept coming.

"It's excellent," Simmons said. "We want people to come and do their duty."

Voters offered different reasons for their willingness to wait in lines across Horry and Georgetown counties, from wanting to be sure they were heard to concerns for jobs.

Walter Rogers was among the concerned citizens.

"I wish I could get all of those people in Washington to work together, the Republicans and the Democrats," said Rogers, who served 30 years in the Air Force. "I want them to create jobs for our economy, although I don't know how they will do that. I want them to work on immigration laws and stop talking about abortion because that is a woman's right."

Rogers said our national government is not going to work well together until certain folks get out of the way.

James Lawrence, a security worker, said he would like to see the continuation of plans set in motion by the Obama administration.

"One of my major concerns is health care," Lawrence said. "You have some of these insurance companies doing whatever they want."

The key concern, however, among voters is the creation of more jobs.

"Jobs, yes that's my main concern," said Marilyn Dozier. "I hate the whole outsourcing thing. They can save some of our jobs by not outsourcing them."

Dawn McDonough, a property manager, said, "I wanted to vote because I have a voice, and I want my voice to be heard. Our leaders need to hear our voice."

McDonough said she supports the hunting and fishing referendum, as well as the referendum for public transportation.

"I just think people should be able to get around, especially because we live in a tourist area."

Despite the crowds of voters, precincts in Horry and Georgetown counties opened without any major problems, according to election officials in each county. Some minor glitches were reported with a few machines.

At the precinct at the Myrtle Beach Church of Christ on Wild Iris Drive in Myrtle Beach, one of the voting machines had a couple of problems.

By early afternoon the machine had been repaired twice. Both repairs were made in less than half an hour, said the poll clerk Amanda Butler.

"It was really hard to press on it," Butler said. "They've had to be calibrated. ... It was an easy fix."

Meanwhile, there were scattered reports of problems in North Carolina. Elections officials in New Hanover County say nearly 300 voters received incorrect ballots that could affect one local and two state races.

And Surry County kept its polls open an hour later after discovering it had been using n incorrect list of registered voters.

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