Elections officials estimated that nearly 2 million North Carolinians headed to the polls Tuesday, eager to add their votes to the more than 2.7 million ballots already cast through mail-in absentee and in-person early voting that ended Saturday.
Despite near-record voting overall, Tuesdays turnout was lighter in some places compared to many past presidential elections because so many people had already voted.
Forty-six percent of this precinct voted early, said Andy Bostick, chief judge at Mallard Creek Elementary Schools Precinct 128. Of the precincts 2,800 registered voters, 1,300 voted early.
But some voters who came out Tuesday deliberately avoided early voting sites.
I went by last week and saw the lines and decided it would be shorter today, said retiree Janice Martin, who voted in about 10 minutes Tuesday at Mallard Creeks Precinct 128.
Bob May, another retiree voting at Mallard Creek, said, This is the easiest way to do it. No need to stand in line at the library for two hours.
He referred to reports from Saturdays early voting when thousands of Charlotte voters waited in lines, some for more than two hours, from University City to Steele Creek.
With 98 of 100 N.C. counties reporting, 4.5 million ballots had been cast nearly 176,000 more than were cast in 2008, a record turnout year. Some 68 percent of registered voters cast ballots this year, which appeared to fall just short of the nearly 70 percent who voted in 2008.
Mecklenburg elections officials predicted a 70 percent turnout for the countys 670,000 registered voters. About 250,000 county residents voted at early voting sites 20 percent more than in 2008.
Statewide, more than 2.5 million people voted early in person, 187,000 by mail. Early voting numbers were up 6 percent from 2008, according to State Elections Director Gary Bartlett.
Few problems reported
In Charlotte and across the state, the election ran smoothly, with only scattered reports of problems.
At Holy Covenant United Church of Christ on Sharon Road, Wayne Bryant noticed that his straight-party votes had been switched to the other party. His wife, Ann, said a supervisor watched as he tried two more times.
It switched all of his votes from one party to another, Ann Bryant said.
The supervisor brought up a different screen on the same machine, and it recorded the vote properly, Ann Bryant said. But she wondered whether other voters who used the machine earlier had their votes switched without realizing it.
Kristin Mavromatis of the Mecklenburg Board of Elections said a technician was sent to the precinct to re-calibrate the machine.
A few calibration problems were also reported during early voting and were taken care of, board officials said.
Martha Browne of south Charlotte said her family encountered three different problems. During early voting Oct. 19, a machine registered the wrong party for her vote. But she made sure it registered her vote properly before leaving.
Her daughter, a University of Alabama student, had trouble getting an absentee ballot from Mecklenburg. After several calls, she gave up and voted in Alabama.
Then, when Brownes husband went to vote Tuesday, she said he was told he had voted early even though he hadnt.
They let him cast a provisional ballot, Browne said.
Election Day lines were longest in the early morning, then stayed strong and steady as the day progressed.
By the people
In Charlotte, Somerwell Vargnese, 42, who emigrated to the United States in 1996, voted in his second presidential election.
I like to get that feeling, he said. We have authority and power to choose our leaders. Were a nation by the people, for the people.
Vargnese encountered no wait at the McCrorey YMCA, a welcome change from the experience in his native India.
In my country, wed get in line at 5 a.m. and wait for four hours, Vargnese said.
Staff writers Caroline McMillan and Celeste Smith contributed to this article. The News & Observer (of Raleigh) also contributed.