First day of early voting draws a crowd: Number of voters exceeds expectations
Local – The Shelby Star
SHELBY – A line of people stood outside the Cleveland County Board of Elections around lunchtime on the opening day of early voting, each waiting for a turn to fill out a ballot and cast a vote.
The line extended to the sidewalk next to East Graham Street, which was lined with campaign signs for most of the candidates on the ballot.
Dayna Causby, director of elections at the Cleveland County Board of Elections, was pleasantly surprised by the turnout all morning.
“All day, it’s been busy,” Causby said. “It is a bigger turnout than we expected and we are happy for it.”
After completing their ballots, some voters formed a second line to try the electronic ballots being tested by Cleveland County on behalf of the state of North Carolina.
The technology completed through Democracy Live’s LiveBallot Demo, which will not be recorded or tabulated in the election results, allows voters to test electronic ballots and provides feedback which will help the State Board of Elections determine if they could be used in future elections.
Debra Blanton, a North Carolina representative for Democracy Live and former county board of elections director, was at the polls to demonstrate the electronic ballot system to those interested in trying out the new technology. She said between 100 and 200 voters tested the electronic ballots on opening morning and most gave the system positive feedback.
“Ninety-eight percent of the people think it is the most wonderful piece of equipment,” Blanton said. “The other two are kind of intimidated by the whole electronic computer thing.”
One of the intended uses of the LiveBallot system is to assist people with seeing and hearing restrictions in voting. One legally blind voter, Nancy Fitch, arrived at the polls early in the day and tested the electronic ballot.
Casuby was excited to have Fitch test the system and provide feedback and hopes more people with seeing and hearing impairments will do the same, so the county and the state can determine if the tablets could replace current technology used by disabled voters.
With large crowds present at the polls and LiveBallot Demo throughout the first five hours of early voting, Causby hopes the morning serves as an indication of how attendance will be as early voting continues.
“We hope that this turnout continues and that we have record turnout for early voting this year,” Causby said.
The schedule for early voting is as follows: 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 24-25 and Oct. 27-31; and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 1.
City government reporter Casey White can be reached at 704-669-3339, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by Twitter @CWhite_Star.