LUMBERTON — Early voting for the May 6 primary is off to a fast start in Robeson County.
According to the Robeson County Board of Elections, 1,020 people cast their ballots during the first day of early voting on Thursday — about 61 percent of the number of people, 1,680, who voted during the first three days of early voting for the May primary in 2012.
There was no sheriff’s race, which is always a big draw, that year. In 2010, the last primary in which there was a sheriff’s race, about 17,000 ballots were cast.
Early voting sites were set up at the Board of Elections office in Lumberton, where 515 people voted on Friday; the senior center in Maxton, where 198 people voted; and at the libraries in Pembroke and Fairmont, where 154 and 153 people voted, respectively.
Voter turnout numbers for Friday were not available before the deadline for this story.
No problems have been reported at any of the polling places and everything has gone off without a hitch, according to Tina Bledsoe, an elections technician with the Board of Elections.
Bledsoe said she expected voter turnout to taper off on Friday.
“I don’t think it’s going to top yesterday,” she said.
Through May 3, residents can cast their ballots for candidates seeking their parties’ nominations in the May 6 primary election for the offices of county commissioner, sheriff, clerk of Superior Court, district attorney, judgeships, state senator, state representatives and the Public Schools of Robeson County Board of Education, which is non-partisan.
Hal Stephens, who voted at the Board of Elections office on Friday afternoon, said he felt this election was especially important.
“Who we vote for here is going to change the course,” he said. “Will these people make a difference, or will they lead to a setback?”
Jimmy Row, who also voted in Lumberton on Friday, agreed.
“We’re all just out here trying to find some good leadership, which is what we need,” he said.
Because of new election laws, voter registration no longer is permitted during early voting. The last day to register to vote was April 11.
Polling sites and hours are as follows:
— Board of Elections office: Weekdays from 8:15 a.m to 5:15 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on May 3, which is a Saturday.
— Fairmont, Maxton and Pembroke: May 1 and May 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and on May 3 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Voting on May 6 will take place from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Polling sites will be open in all of the county’s precincts.
According to G.L. Pridgen, director of the Robeson County Board of Elections, there are 52,900 registered Democrats, 8,700 registered Republicans, and 12,700 registered unaffiliated voters, who can participate in either the Democratic or Republican primary. About 27 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the 2010 primary.