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Officials: Local election gets off to smooth start

Voters were lined up outside the polls before the poll workersarrived to open precincts in Brookhaven Tuesday morning, andseveral poll managers said more people cast their ballots duringthe first two hours of Election Day than voted throughout all ofthe primaries in March.

“I think everything is off to a really smooth start,” saidLincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins. “Hopefully, we’llall just click on along and everything will go well. I think we’regoing to see a heavy turnout, as many predicted.”

Watkins said no major problems were reported from the county’s32 precincts Tuesday morning other than routine errors like paperjams and a few voters showing up to the wrong precinct. The pollswere off to a smooth – but busy – start Tuesday.

Based on a snapshot of four city precincts, approximately 10percent of the county’s registered voters had already voted before9 a.m.

The best turnout of the four city precincts inspected was at theCity Hall Precinct in the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce lobby. Among county precincts visited, Loyd Star, NewSight and Pearlhaven precincts were seeing heavy turnout, with lawenforcement needed to control traffic in some areas.

“We’re having people vote one a minute,” said City Hall PrecinctPoll Worker Catherine Dickey. “We’re going to be busy all day, butthat’s the way we want it. We’re so glad people are getting out tovote.”

At 9 a.m., 130 of the precinct’s 992 registered voters – 13percent – had already done their civic duty for the day. Dickeysaid more than 20 of those were lined up down Whitworth Avenuewaiting when she and her fellow poll workers opened the doors at 7a.m.

Lipsey School Precinct Box Manager Anita Nettles said more than50 voters had formed a line outside her precinct in the schoolgymnasium before 7 a.m. Tuesday.

“They began lining up about 10 till 7 a.m.,” she said. “But itdidn’t take us too long to get them out. Everything is workinggreat.”

By 8:30 a.m., 132 of Lipsey’s 1,267 registered voters – 10percent – had voted.

Ten minutes later, the polls at Brookhaven High School wereshowing similar progress.

Poll manager Dorothy Watkins said 104 of her precinct’sapproximately 1,300 registered voters – 8 percent – had voted by8:40 a.m., with about 30 of those standing in line before the pollsopened.

“We had a line of about 30 people by 7:25 a.m.,” she said. “Theturnout should be larger than it ever has been. Normally by thistime, we’d have about 40 people.”

The Government Complex precinct inside the courthouse was also abusy polling place Tuesday morning, with 110 of its 971 registeredvoters – 11 percent – voting by 8:45 a.m.

“The rest of the day we’re going to be busy, busy – it’s on,”said poll manager Debbie Sartin. “But everything has been smooth,and we’re going to keep it that way.”

Election Day’s early success was not just limited to within thecity limits.

By 8:30 a.m., 143 of the New Sight Precinct’s approximately1,000 voters – 14 percent – had already voted and were on their wayto work.

Poll worker Robert Robinson estimated his precinct would seeabout 800 voters before the polls close at 7 p.m.

“This is the best turnout we’ve had in a long time – especiallythis early,” he said.

The rush to the polls at Loyd Star Precinct at the Loyd StarVolunteer Fire Department interfered with the normal rush to schoolTuesday morning, resulting in an additional Lincoln Countysheriff’s deputy being called out to direct voter traffic.