RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The in-person early voting period ended Saturday with North Carolina poised to cross 2 million votes cast before Election Day.
Many polling places were busy, as the majority of Wake County’s 15 early voting sites reported wait times of one to two hours Saturday afternoon.
“I think that a lot of people don’t understand how important that is until they come out and see how many people are willing to stand in line for an hour and a half,” said Richard Major, of Garner, who voted Saturday at Lake Lynn Community Center.
The Lake Lynn location has been the busiest early voting site in the state this year, according to data from the Wake County Board of Elections.
Before polling sites opened Saturday morning, the North Carolina State Board of Elections reported about 1.97 million votes cast either in person or by mail, which means nearly 27 percent of all registered voters already had voted.
During the last midterm election in 2018, about 1.7 million ballots had been cast by this point, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
“I just loved seeing all the people, especially on the weekend,” said Shianne Webb, of Raleigh.
Gary Sims, director of elections in Wake County, said he expects some sites will have lines on Tuesday when polling places are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
In the leadup to the in-person early voting period beginning, Sims said he was concerned about potential disruptions at polling places by observers appointed by political parties. However, he said the observers “have been definitely doing a good job.” Instead, he said issues have arisen from some people campaigning.
“Not specific to a party, but individual campaigns arguing with other campaigns. And, that’s disappointing because the voters get caught in the crossfire with that,” he said. “We’re trying everything we can, but in some cases, they just won’t behave like adults.”
Sims said election officials have trained for a variety of circumstances that could arise on Election Day and potentially disrupt the process.
“Anywhere from active shooter trainings all the way to de-escalation type of trainings. So, that’s just a good service we provide for our employees. We also incorporate that into our training for our (election) officials,” he said.
After polls close Tuesday evening, Sims said results from early voting will posted quickly. As for votes cast at precincts on Election Day, he does not anticipate those results to begin being posted until about 10 p.m.
“It also offers a lot of confidence to people. Maybe they say, ‘oh I want the results faster.’ Well, fast is not always the best way to do something,” Sims said.