The number of Sampson County residents voting early in the 2012 election was nearing 2008’s numbers, and could eventually eclipse those figures, with nearly 12,000 people having casted their ballots locally as of Friday afternoon.
Donna Marshburn, director of the Sampson County Board of Elections, said crowds were again being seen at the polls as early voting was set to end Saturday leading up to Tuesday’s Election Day. The rush at the end of this week mirrored what the county saw when early voting began Oct. 18, Marshburn noted.
While there was a lull near the middle of the early voting period, when voters were just trickling into the Board of Elections Office and three other sites, the crowds had returned in the last days of early voting.
Approximately 11,500 residents had early voted in Sampson County as of 3 p.m. Friday — and those numbers were changing by the minute.
“They’re changing as we speak,” Marshburn said. “All the polling sites are very busy right now. It had kind of slacked off some, but today it seems that everybody who hasn’t voted yet is coming out. It’s sort of like the first day we early voted. We’re getting the rush before early voting ends.”
It will not be known what the outcome is in Sampson County until Election Day, however of the 11,428 votes that had been recorded in the Board of Elections database (there were 11,510 early voting ballots cast, but not all had shown up in the database as recorded as of yet and off-site poll numbers were being updated every 30 minutes), 6,430 were registered Democrat, 3,808 registered Republican, 1,177 unaffiliated and 13 Libertarian.
There are a total of 37,578 voters registered in Sampson County, to include 18,346 registered Democrats, 13,438 Republicans, 5,739 unaffiliated and five Libertarians. Marshburn said everyone gets nearly the exact same ballot in general elections, which are devoid of straight-party options.
There were 13,739 Sampson County residents who voted early in 2008, but many of them came in toward the end of the 17-day span. Marshburn said more people flocked to polls at the beginning of the early voting period this time around. If the same kind of crowds come out Friday evening and into Saturday, the 2012 early voting figures would likely eclipse tallies from four years ago.
“It’s been very busy today,” Marshburn said. “It’s been pretty constant all day and we’ve had very little lull at all.”
Of the 2008 early voters, 8,387 were registered Democrat, compared to 4,106 Republicans, 1,239 unaffiliated and seven Libertarian. Overall, there were 23,923 in Sampson who voted in the 2008 election, meaning roughly 57 percent of the vote was early voting. In 2010, 6,080 of 17,218 total voters casted ballots early, or about 35 percent.
In 2008, the breakdown of all voters locally included 12,177 Democrats, 9,152 Republicans, 2,584 unaffiliated and 10 Libertarians. Those numbers show that, while there was a 2-to-1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans during early voting, the numbers after that when taking into account Election Day voting and absentee votes actually showed more late Republican votes, at a count of 5,046 registered Republicans to 3,790 Democrats.
Throughout early voting, ample opportunities have been had to cast ballots at four sites, including the Sampson County Board of Elections, the Newton Grove Rescue Squad, the Garland Rescue facility and the Roseboro Municipal Building.
Through Friday afternoon, 8,352 votes had been cast at the Board of Elections, 1,350 in Roseboro, 1,168 in Newton Grove and another 558 in Garland. The opportunity to vote early was to extend through 8 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at all four sites.
“If they haven’t voted by then, they will have to vote Tuesday,” Marshburn said. “If they haven’t registered by then, it’s too late.”
In addition to the those early voting locally, there were 811 absentee ballots issued by the local elections board. By Friday afternoon, 585 of those civilians ballots had been returned or mailed back. Others absentee voters will have until 5 p.m. Monday to bring them by the office, or will have to postmark them by Tuesday if mailing them in.
Election day is this Tuesday, Nov. 6, during which all 23 of the county’s precincts will be open to the public from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. For more information about voting, contact the Sampson County Board of Elections at 910-592-5796.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.