Politics & Government

Voters arrive at polling stations before they're open

North Carolina elections officials reported this morning that poll workers arrived at their polling places to find voters already waiting to cast ballots in what is expected to be a record turnout in the most consequential North Carolina presidential primary in decades.

At St. Mark's Episcopal Church on New Hope Road in Raleigh, for example, about 200 people voted by 7:30 a.m., Wake County Elections Director Cherie Poucher said. Te polls opened at 6:30 a.m.

Elections officials were dealing with confusion on the part of some Republican voters who asked to vote in the Democratic primary, Poucher said.

Under state elections laws, only unaffiliated voters get to choose between a Democratic and Republican ballot on election day; other voters are supposed to vote in the primary of the party with which they are registered as of April 11. Republicans who insisted on having Democratic ballots were being allowed to vote provisionally, though by law their votes will not count.

In Durham County, Elections Director Mike Ashe was happy that all 56 polls opened on time with no hitches. "There were no reports of around-the-block or any craziness, but it has been busy and steady, and people are voting," Ashe said.

Reports from voting precincts across the Charlotte metro region area indicated dozens of people already in line when voting began at 6:30 a.m.

Polls remain open to 7:30 p.m. Until then, the campaigns of both Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are expected to push hard to bring out voters in the kind of effort that is rare for the state. Obama will be in Raleigh, and Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, will make campaign appearances for his wife in Huntersville and Lexington this morning.