By Josh Lanier
A record number of voters lined up at the Cabarrus County Board of Elections Thursday to cast an early ballot in this year’s general election.
A total of 1,135 voters chose their candidates in the first day of early voting. Many voters said a faltering economy and North Carolina’s new position as a swing state in this year’s presidential contest pushed them to the polls.
“It’s the biggest numbers of early voters we’ve ever had,” said Linda Grist, director of the county’s Board of Elections. “It was phenomenal to see so many people coming out so early.”
Early voting lasts from Oct. 16 to Nov. 1 and was created to shorten voting lines on election days and allow unregistered voters a last chance to submit a ballot. In 2000, 6,125 early votes were cast and another 12,692 in 2004, election records show.
Lines stretched around the building at times throughout the day.
“It’s pretty refreshing to see this many people in line to vote,” Linda Angel said. “A lot of young people out here as well. It’s great to see so many people getting involved.”
Many of those waiting said the economy’s distress and a chance to vote early pushed them to the polls Thursday.
“America’s in a tight spot,” Stan Carlton said. “There’s a lot at stake this year and something’s got to change. This is going to be a huge election.”
The increasing political advertisements, pushes for voter registration and other electioneering around the state has created what could be the biggest election turnout ever in the county, election officials said.
Many of those new voters are registering Democratic, records show.
“People seem a lot more receptive to us being out here this year,” Democratic electioneer Angie Martinez said. “People are really interested in our message, it seems.”
Martinez stood outside the Board of Election offices from 12 until 5 p.m. Thursday passing out fliers, buttons and information on Democratic candidates.
“Judging by today,” Martinez said. “This vote is going to be huge; bigger than we’ve ever seen.”
• Contact reporter Josh Lanier: 704- 789-9144.