Early turnout good

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 7, 2000

Voting in today’s presidential election got off to a fast startin Lincoln County, with poll workers reporting people waiting tovote by the time polling places opened at 7 a.m.

“If this is an indication of what it’s going to be the rest ofthe day . . . we’ve had 11 people and they’re standing in line,”said an optimistic Gwen Davis only a few minutes after the CityHall precinct opened.

At the Halbert Heights precinct, poll worker Bonita Bullock saidabout 10 people were waiting to vote at 7 a.m. That number hadquadrupled a short time later.

“It’s been steady. We’ve voted 46 and we’ve been open 20minutes,” Bullock said. “If it stays this way, we’ll have atremendous turnout.”

With an exit pollster for the Voter News Service, some HalbertHeights participants had a chance to play a role in mediaprojections of race winners.

Pollster Linda Partell said she will call in resultsperiodically throughout the day, and networks and other media willuse them to project winners. She knew of no other Lincoln Countyprecincts where exit polling was taking place.

“It’s only in selected areas,” Partell said.

Lincoln County voters are making their choices today in racesfor President, U.S. Senator, Fourth District U.S. Representative,state Supreme Court, two county school board offices and fiveelection commissioner posts, although only one is contested.

At the Lipsey precinct, poll worker Coleman Lea attributed theheavy early turnout to people voting before they go to work. Byaround 7:30 a.m., 46 Lipsey voters had cast ballots, but Lea wasunsure about the rest of the day.

“It’s anybody’s guess,” he said. “I hope we have a goodturnout.”

At the High School precinct, poll worker Dorothy Watkins said 20people had voted by around 7:45 a.m. Some of those were waitingwhen the doors opened and she was looking for a busy day.

“I think it’s going to be a great day,” Watkins said. “They’regoing to come out to vote.”

High School precinct voters are doing so at the Vo-Tech buildingtoday since the old activities building, where people used to vote,was torn down this year as part of a new construction project.Watkins reported no problems with the voting place change.

With the presidential election between Republican George W. Bushand Democrat Vice-president Al Gore too close to call, politicalparties and others have been stressing the need for people toexercise their right to vote. Watkins believes that message isgetting out.

“It’s been well-expressed,” she said. “It’s important.”

At some other county precincts, poll workers were alsooptimistic.

“We were busier earlier this morning, people on their way towork,” said Maude Davis, Alexander poll worker, during a brief lullat the precinct.

At Alexander, 42 people had voted. Davis said the weather wasbeautiful, and she looked forward to many voters during the rest ofthe day.

“We’re looking to have a very good turnout,” Davis said.

By the time the church clock bell rang at 8 a.m., 41 GovernmentComplex voters had made their choices. Poll worker Curtis Forestdescribed the turnout as fair.

“We had a few come in to start with,” he said. “Hopefully, it’sgoing to be a good turnout.”