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Early voters make their voices heard

Early voters make their voices heard
November 01
00:00 2012

The early voting fervor struck East Winston last week, as hundreds of Forsyth County residents flocked to the Mazie Woodruff Center and 14th Street Recreation Center to do their civic duty.

Photo by Layla Garms
Timothy Scales stands outside the Fourteenth Street Community Center after voting on Oct. 26.

As of the end of the day on Tuesday, 3,977 and 3,460 residents had cast ballots at the Woodruff Center and 14th Street Recreation Center, respectively. In all, 53,484 residents had taken advantage of the early voting  countywide as of Tuesday, according to the Forsyth County Board of Elections.

Richmond, Va. native Georgia Porter was among the thousands who cast their votes at the Woodruff Center on Lansing Drive. Porter, a retired housekeeper, has been registered to vote since 1972. In that time, the great-grandmother of one  has never missed the opportunity to cast her vote in a presidential election.

The Carver High School alumna doesn’t own a car, but she refused to let that deter her from showing her support for President Obama. She enlisted the support of the Forsyth County Democratic Party, which aided her by providing transportation to the polls last week.

“My son’s always working and when he gets off, he’s tired, so I wanted to make sure I got my vote in this time,” related Porter, who lives just a short drive from the Woodruff Center.

Friday was Porter’s first time voting early in an election. The 76-year-old said she voted early in memory of a fellow member at Union Chapel Baptist Church who would not have been able to participate in the 2012 election if not for early voting.

“We had a lady that passed and we were going to honor her by voting early,” Porter explained. “It was pretty easy after I got the hang of it. It’s been a great experience.”

Preston McConnell, a retired R.J. Reynolds electrician, drove Porter to the Woodruff Center. Porter is one of 10 voters McConnell, a registered Democrat, has driven to the polls this election cycle. The city native transported hundreds of voters to the polls in 2008.

“I was out there everyday from six in the morning until the polls closed,” related the 68 year-old. “If they call me anytime the polls are open, I’ll come and get them.”

The grandfather of two, who also participates in voter registration and Get Out the Vote efforts on behalf of the Democratic party, said he lent his support to the initiative because he felt it was important to make sure everyone who wanted to vote was able to do so.

“You’ve got to get the folks out to vote,” he declared. “They’ve got to vote. We don’t want anybody to be discouraged.

McConnell said he has already taken advantage of one-stop voting, and he urges others to do the same. He even volunteered to drive the Mount Zion Baptist Church van on Sunday, transporting fellow members to the Government Center as part of the Souls to the Polls effort.

Organizing for America, President Barack Obama’s re-election effort, has been strongly encouraging North Carolina voters to take advantage of one-stop early voting to ensure that they don’t miss their chance to vote if unexpected issues arise on Election Day. Early voting sites also allow voters to register on the spot, an option that is not available on Election Day. The president’s 2008 campaign benefitted greatly from early voting options, which many say were responsible for tipping the scales in his favor.

Elon University alumnus Dan Stokes and his wife, Carita took advantage of one-stop voting at the 14th Street Recreation Center Friday afternoon. The couple, who have been married 30 years, live on the west side of town, but opted to vote at 14th Street because they had heard the lines were shorter there, explained Dan Stokes, an independent travel consolidator. True to form, the two only had to wait five minutes in line to vote, Mr. Stokes said. He believes the contrary will be true on Nov. 6.

“I think the lines are going to be pretty large on Election Day. I think there’s going to be a big turnout,” he commented. “…(this) was easy – it was a breeze.”

City native Timothy Scales said he also chose early voting in hopes of avoiding long Election Day lines, and he felt it was important to support President Obama.

“He has good values to me … (unlike) the Republicans,” commented the 24 year-old. “Where they want to lead the country is not good for young people like myself.”

Scales, a history student at Forsyth Tech and a Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center employee, said he isn’t sure if the president has garnered the same level of excitement among Scales’ peer group as he did in 2008.

“I hope they see that we need another four years, because if it goes back to what the Republicans want, it’s not going to be good for us, especially African Americans,” he stated. “They want to take away a lot of the advantages that we have, like Pell grants, so it’s basically going to make it harder.”

Eearly voting numbers still have some ways to go before they top 2008’s tally. Four years ago, 78,883 Forsyth County residents voted early. There are still three more days of early voting left, and on Monday, Oct. 29, eight more early voting sites opened, including ones at Winston-Salem State’s Anderson Center and the Brown and Douglas Rec Center. On Saturday, Nov. 3, the last day for early voting, the Obama Campaign will host a “Final Dash to Early Vote” cookout in the parking lot of Piney Grove Baptist Church, 4715 Indiana Ave., from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. The church is next door to the Brown and Douglas Rec Center.

Statewide, early voting numbers are on par wit the previous presidential election. As of Tuesday, more than 1.5 million voters had already cast their votes in this election cycle, compared with a total of 2.4 million early voters in 2008, according to the State Board of Elections. Historically, the latter part of the early voting cycle has seen the highest attendance numbers.

 

Satellite locations Clemmons Library, 3554 Clemmons Road; 14th Street Recreational Center, 2020 NE 14th Street; Kernersville Senior Center/Library, 130 E. Mountain Street; Mazie Woodruff Center, 4905 Lansing Drive; Old Town Recreation Center, 4550 Shattalon Drive; and Southside Library, 3185 Buchanan Street; Brown & Douglas Recreation Center, 4725 Indiana Avenue; Harper Hill Commons Shopping Center,  150 Grant Hill Lane; Lewisville Library, 6490 Shallowford Road; Polo Park Recreation Center, 1850 Polo Road; Rural Hall Library, 7125 Broad Street; Sedge Garden Recreation Center, 401 Robbins Road; Walkertown Library, 2969 Main Street; and Winston-Salem State University’s Anderson Center, 800 Price Street;are open Thursday – Saturday (Nov. 1-3) 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. The polls will be open on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit  HYPERLINK “http://www.fcvotes.com” www.fcvotes.com or call 336-703-2800.

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Layla Garms

Layla Garms

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