LUMBERTON — Robeson County’s 58,000 registered voters who didn’t make it to the polls during early voting have until 7:30 tonight to mark a ballot.
As of 8 a.m. today, 56 voters had turned in their ballot at the Bill Sapp Recreation Center, which serves Lumberton’s Precinct No. 2. The polling site, one of 41 in Robeson County, opened at 6:30 a.m.
Martha Bedell’s ballot made the 57th to hit the box. As she left the sparsely-populated center, she asked election judge Jim Lovell where all the voters were.
“We had 850 people vote in just this precinct during early voting,” Lovell told her. “We’ll have a big turnout.”
Lovell said that during the May 8 primary, the center received just 78 votes on the day of the election.
“We’ll have more here, I’m sure, in another hour, than we had all day long” on May 8, Lovell said.
Bedell, standing outside the center in a blue, padded jacket, said it was her first time casting a ballot in Robeson County. The Massachusetts native moved here after the 2008 presidential election.
“It’s very important to vote so we can get who we want in there,” she said. “I hope that more people show up — but I know a lot of people had voted ahead of time.”
As of Saturday, the last of the 16 days of early voting, 17,374 Robeson County voters — 23 percent of those registered to vote in the county — had cast ballots. That total surpasses the 14,050 ballots cast during the entire early voting period for the 2008 presidential election, according to Dock Locklear, director of the Robeson County Board of Elections.
People should place their ballots at their normal polling sites, but in case of confusion, a precinct and polling place finder and a personalized sample ballot can be found by visiting the State Board of Elections website — www.ncsbe.gov — and following the appropriate links at the top of the page. Anyone with questions can also call the Robeson County Board of Elections office at 910-671-3080.
Pickings are slim at the local level, with only the District 7 seat of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners up for grabs. Incumbent Tom Taylor, a Democrat, will face Republican Dennis Harrell.
Robeson County District Court Judge Judith Milsap Daniels, who is seeking her second four-year term on the bench, is being challenged by Rodney Oxendine, an assistant Robeson County district attorney for almost 12 years.
This election year, much of the county lies in congressional District 8 for the first time. District 8 is represented by Larry Kissell, a Democrat. Mike McIntyre, a Lumberton native, represents District 7, which used to include all of Robeson County, but now includes just a sliver of it.
Kissell is running against Richard Hudson, a Republican, and Antonio Blue, a Democratic write-in candidate. McIntyre will face off against Republican state Sen. David Rouzer.
State Sen. Michael Walters, a Democrat from Fairmont, is defending his District 13 seat against W. Bernard White Jr., a Republican from Whiteville. Rep. G.L. Pridgen, of Lumberton, the only Republican in Robeson County’s current state delegation, hopes to hold on to his District 46 seat by defeating Kenneth Waddell, the Democratic mayor of Chadbourn.
In the presidential race, voters will have the chance to choose between Democratic incumbents Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Republican challengers Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and Libertarians Gary Johnson and James P. Gray.
Republican Pat McCrory and Democrat Walter Dalton are seeking to replace Beverly Perdue as the state’s governor. There are a number of other Council of State races.