Leader Blues

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TOP STORY > >Voting is heavy in early turnout

Leader senior staff writer

Election officials in both Pulaski and Lonoke counties said Tuesday that turnout in early voting was heavy.

In Pulaski County, 10,650 people had cast ballots by Tuesday evening. 7,050 of those on Monday, the first day. In addition, 2,124 absentee ballots were cast.

In Lonoke County, 284 people voted at the courthouse on Monday, with another 464 voting at Cabot, according to a spokesman in the county clerk’s office. An estimated 225 more had voted by 4 p.m. in Lonoke on Tuesday.

My mid-afternoon Tuesday about 1,000 of White County’s 46,000 registered voters had voted early at the courthouse in Searcy instead of waiting in line on Election Day.

Although only the second day of early voting, White County officials said it was going well. About 700 voted on Monday.

In Pulaski County, voting at the City and County Building across from the County Courthouse went smoothly, with 18 machines available, according to Election Commission Director Susan Inman.

In Jacksonville on Monday, voters stood for 90 minutes in lines that snaked around the City Hall corridors, waiting a turn at one of the touch screen voting machines.

“Voting has been heavy, fast and furious and we’re excited that so many are taking the opportunity to vote early,” Inman said.

“The first day is always a (rough) time—we’re working our way into the groove. It’s much smoother today at all our locations,” she said.

Each remote Pulaski County voting site had five voting machines, but one of those five didn’t work at Jacksonville. The paper roll was jamming in that machine, Inman said.

“We had to get a tech out there,” said Inman. It was the internal printer, used to create a backup paper trail, that was malfunctioning.

Come January, for the first time since George H.W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis in 1988, someone other than a Bush or a Clinton will occupy the White House.

The hotly contested race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain in the midst of perhaps the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is expected to drive that record turnout.

Local races between Buddy Villines, the incumbent, and Phil Wyrick for Pulaski County Judge, and between Doc Holladay and Patrick Mulligan for Pulaski County Sheriff will also stimulate turnout.

In Lonoke County, Republican Cassandra Pitts is challenging County Clerk Dawn Porterfield, the Democratic incumbent, and Republican Denise Brown is challenging Circuit Clerk Democrat Deborah Oglesby, the incumbent.

Sheriff Jim Roberson, a Republican, is being challenged by former deputy Steve Rich, a Democrat.

Joan McCoy and Rick Kron contributed to this report.