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Heavy turnout as voters decide

SoVaNow.com / November 07, 2012
Long lines were the order of the day for polling places around much of Mecklenburg County as voters headed to the polls to elect the next president and other offices, including U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

In Mecklenburg County, GOP nominee Mitt Romney jumped out to roughly a 1,900 vote lead over Barack Obama with all but six precincts reporting. The race for U.S. Senate between Tim Kaine and George Allen also favored the Republican candidate, and in the Fifth District, incumbent Republican Robert Hurt was on a path to cruise to victory over Democratic challenger John Douglass.

Elections Registrar Jason Corwin confirmed a heavy turnout for the area. He also said that some of the delay in voting was due to problems with the machines. “Machines were down in several precincts, but that just means we do not have any voting machines held in reserve. If needed, all the precincts have paper backups [paper ballots].”

Other problems stemmed from confusion surrounding the two Constitutional Amendments voters were being asked to decide. Corwin said, “We had posters on the walls and information about the issues at each polling place, but people still had questions.”

The longest lines appeared to be at the American Legion Hall in South Hill. Voters were waiting in line for upwards of 45 minutes. No one seemed deterred by the wait, or the cold.

Mecklenburg County voters were no worse off than other areas around the State. Don Palmer, secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections said they’d received sporadic reports of irregularities, mainly involving malfunctioning voting machines.

There was also confusion with a few voters who were watching the national news and heard that people in New Jersey had internet voting. They wanted to do the same in Virginia.

First time voter Jasmin Smith, didn’t care how long it took her to vote, as long as she had the chance. Ten-year-old Jordan Watson, standing with his mother Pam, agreed adding his own Civics lesson, “voting is important because it’s the only thing no one can take away you.”

Across the County at the Clarksville Community Center, there was a steady crowd of voters all day long. Page Roberts, who was staffing a booth for Romney/Ryan and Hurt, outside the polls, said the crowds thinned a little around 3:00, but never stopped. He expected them to pick up again as people left work.

Corwin said if early in person voting was any indication of turnout, nearly 200 more people voted this year than in 2008, Mecklenburg County could have record turnout. His only prediction about the races, “We probably won’t be finished with our counting until close to 1:00 a.m.

Palmer made the same prediction for all of Virginia. “The turnout this year may be stronger than in 2008,” when Obama became the first Democrat to win the southern state in 44 years.

Throughout the day reports of heavy turnout was repeated around the country, with voters forming long lines at polling places after record numbers participated in early balloting.

That the Presidential race remained too close to call in a few key states was obvious. While Candidates usually take Election Day off, this year they were making public appearances even as voting took place. Obama was in Chicago while Vice President Joe Biden stopped by Ohio.

Romney and running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, also each separately arrived in Ohio.

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