Long lines in Eastern Carolina as early voting begins

Several voting precincts are reporting over double the turnout from the first day of early voting in 2016.
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 5:49 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 7:34 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - There have been long lines at several early voting sites here in Eastern Carolina.

Early in-person voting began Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m.

WITN has seen long lines at early voting sites in Jacksonville, New Bern and Winterville.

“A line don’t bother me,” said Richard Neisler, who was voting early today in Jacksonville. “I waited in lines all my career. Pay lines and all that. I think it’s serious. You need to take this seriously.”

In New Bern, the line is wrapped around the entire building. People in line say it’s taken them more than an hour and a half to get even close to going inside the building.

At the board of elections office in Jacksonville, the line was out the parking lot and into the street practically all day. Some voters said they were in line for up to five hours.

“When I became a citizen, I pledged to do what United States stand for,” said Masako Neisler, who naturalized from Japan. “So, I need to follow it for opportunity. This opportunity only comes every once in a while."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, mail-in voting has become popular this year among voters, but has come into question the last few months. Voters who headed to the polls Thursday said they would rather wait in the lines and risk the crowds than take the chance their voices aren’t heard.

“I could’ve done an absentee, I’m a high-risk person,” said Elizabeth Joslin. “But, I thought as long as I keep my distance. I didn’t want any chance that my vote wasn’t counted. So, I wanted to make sure I was here and it went right in the ballot box.”

More than 60% of the ballots cast in 2016 in North Carolina were cast through early in-person voting. That percentage is likely to be less because 500,000 people have already have cast ballots by mail. According to election officials in Jones and Craven counties, precincts there saw double the turnout from the first day of early voting during the last presidential election.

“It’s everybody’s duty to come out and have their voice heard,” said Sean Rawls. “Because if you don’t speak for yourself, somebody else is going to speak for you.”

The early-vote option ends Oct. 31 and polls will be open until 7:30 p.m.

Copyright 2020 WITN. All rights reserved.

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