Polk sets early vote record after one week

Published 3:10 pm Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Polk County and North Carolina are on pace to shatter previous voter turnout records.

With five days of early voting still remaining, Polk has already set a record for votes during the state&squo;s one-stop, early voting period. As of Monday at noon, the Polk elections office had recorded 4,347 votes, which is 443 more than the early vote total in the last presidential election in 2004.

The total cast so far in early voting is nearly half of the total number of votes recorded in Polk County in 2004, including votes cast early and on election day.

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At this pace, the county could easily reach 6,000 early votes this year. In the 2004 election, Polk County had 9,286 total voters, with 3,904 being early voters.

Turnout has been on a record pace across the state. According to state elections officials, North Carolina has topped one million early votes (1,078,710), which is nearly one fifth of the registered voters in the state. Those numbers already exceed the early voting in the state during the 2004 election, which was about 984,000.

Officials say the high turnout has drawn more Democrats than Republicans. About 58 percent of early voters so far were registered Democrats and 25 percent were registered Republicans.

North Carolina numbers are showing that 28 percent of the early voters have been African-American. African-Americans make up 21 percent of the state&squo;s population, and accounted for 19 percent of the state&squo;s overall 2004 vote.

This year the state is allowing people who have not yet registered to register and vote at the same time during the one-stop, early voting period.

A number of&bsp; people in Polk County have taken advantage of the opportunity to register during early voting. There have been at least 30 Polk residents who have newly registered during the early voting process.

Early voting can be done at three Polk locations:

&ull; The board of elections office on the second floor of the Womack Building (8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday) &bsp;

&ull; The Green Creek Family Life Center and Mill Spring Fire Department (noon to 7 p.m. weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday)

&ull; Mill Spring Fire Dept. ((noon to 7 p.m. weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday)

So far, the Polk County Board of Elections has recorded 2,797 early votes, the Green Creek Family Life Center has had 565 and the Mill Spring Fire Department 396. There have also been 589 absentee ballots returned so far out of a total 931 mailed out this year.

All residents can vote early at any location regardless of which precinct they are registered. Precinct polling will only be done on election day, which is next Tuesday.

The absentee ballot application request ends today and the last day to return those ballots is Nov. 3.