As voters waited to cast their ballots in Carrboro on Thursday, the first day of early voting in North Carolina, passing cars cheered and honked their horns. Despite wait times exceeding an hour, the mood among many voters at the Carrboro Town Hall precinct was enthusiastic.
Some voters brought chairs to sit and wait while others read books, worked on their computers or listened to music.
Kenneth Jordan, a physician, and Jeremy Essig, a comedian, discussed music and politics as they waited. Both Jordan and Essig said they were longtime Democratic voters and had often voted on the official election day.
“It was a tradition to vote on voting day. When my kids were young, I even took my kids to show them the process,” Jordan said. “So, it’s different this year because of COVID and wanting to get to vote.”
Essig said he used to live in Missouri, where they don't have early voting. He said he took advantage of early voting for the March primary as well.
Early voting began in North Carolina on Oct. 15 and will last until Oct. 31. More than 272,000 North Carolinians had voted early in person by 7:30 p.m. Thursday, according to the N.C. Board of Elections. This surpasses the total for the first day of early voting in the 2016 general election, which was about 166,000.
As of Thursday, over 500,000 North Carolinians have casted absentee ballots. More than 16,000 of these ballots were from Orange County.
Polling places drew large crowds throughout the state on Thursday. More than 90 people waited in line at Carrboro Town Hall late Thursday morning. Voters and poll greeters said the line had not changed much throughout the morning and lasted about an hour.
Chandra Dunston, an esthetician, and her son, Akin Dunston said it was their first time voting early. It was Akin’s first time voting altogether.
Chandra Dunston said she was motivated to vote by both frustration and excitement.
“I knew it was going to be pretty cool just to see everybody, you know, get somewhat in person around people,” Dunston said.
Both agreed the line did not last as long as they expected.
“If people that don't vote, if they go early, they can get a chance to get registered and all of that,” Chandra Dunston said.
Voters who are physically unable to enter the polling place due to age, disability, an increased risk of COVID-19 or potential COVID-19 symptoms are able to vote from their cars through curbside voting.
Also during the early voting period, voters who filled out absentee ballots can drop off their ballots without waiting in line. This method is an alternative to mailing or dropping off ballots at the board of elections office on Nov. 3.
There are six early voting sites in Orange County, and you can find a list of these on the Orange County Board of Election's website.
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