Nearly 470,000 people cast ballots in the first two days of in-person early voting. The State Board of Elections reported North Carolina has already topped one-million votes in the general election, when in-person votes are combined with the over 570,000 ballots cast by mail-in absentee.
"At this rate, I think we're really looking good," said Gary Sims, Wake County Board of Elections (BOE) Director.
Wake BOE reported Friday's early voting tallies countywide were on pace with Thursday's staggering totals, despite the bad weather. Both days recording over 26,000 early voters.
DID OFFICIALS ADEQUATELY PREPARE FOR LONGER LINES?
Sims tells ABC11, the super-sized lines are the result of record numbers of voters refusing to wait a moment longer to weigh in on what seems to be the election of a lifetime.
"We're really trying to get the word out to go to these larger locations. There's definitely plenty of voting booths; definitely plenty of space," Sims said.
But at one of Cary's large early vote sites, day two lines wrapped around the Herbert Community Center. Socially-distant voters in masks with umbrellas waited patiently in the rain, some for hours.
"If we have to stand in the rain, stand in the rain. We're not going to melt. We're fine. It's our job," said Cary voter Melvin Gray.
In a high-interest election that's playing out in the midst of a pandemic, county boards of elections have been scrambling for months to prepare to accommodate voters. Sims acknowledged early-voting polling site preferences among voters are hard to predict.
Over 1 million North Carolinians have already voted in #Election2020 — Day 2 of in-person early voting was as big as day 1. But, what about those hours-long wait times. Did county officials adequately prepare for the crowds?— Joel Brown (@JoelBrownABC11) October 17, 2020
We talk to Wake BOE at 11. #abc11 #Vote2020 pic.twitter.com/zgZ0xTcUd5
"We wanted to make sure that we were doing everything big. I think we did do everything big. There's always gonna be people that go back and say you should've done this or you should've responded to this or that," Sims said. "Our board and our staff have done everything we can to make this successful."
Every county in the state added more hours, staff, and beefed up sanitizing for the pandemic. In 2016, Wake County opened only half of its early voting sites on the first week of early voting. This year, all 20 opened on day one, county-wide - in an attempt to absorb the larger numbers.
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