Voter turnout heavy in region

Published 11:40 am Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Long waits, iffy weather and a ban on election swag didn’t deter voters from turning out in large numbers Tuesday morning in Franklin, Southampton County and Isle of Wight County.

“It was really busy first thing this morning,” said Patsy Fowler, assistant voter registrar for Franklin.

By 12:42 p.m. more than half of Franklin’s registered voters had cast ballots. A little more than 40 percent of registered voters had gone to the polls to cast an in-person vote and the registrar’s office had received about 600 absentee ballots, Fowler said.

Turnout was heavy in Southampton and Isle of Wight, too.

“Our poll workers have reported very long lines, particularly in the morning,” said Southampton Voter Registrar Leona Davis during a quick phone interview at 10:45 a.m. “I’m guessing some people thought they could beat the traffic by getting here early. A good many (of the precincts) have calmed down some.”

In Isle of Wight, people have been calling the voter registrar’s office nonstop, according to one volunteer who picked up the phone there.

“So far, the phones have been (ringing) off the hook,” she said.

Storms along the mid-Atlantic coast may have an impact on voter turnout, according to

The combination of rain and gale-force winds along the coast near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay could lead to coastal flooding, the Web site reported.

In a 2005 study published in the June 2007 edition of the Journal of Politics, a team of political scientists determined that Democrats are less likely to vote in inclement weather.

One of the co-authors, University of Pittsburgh Professor George Krause, says rain is a bigger deterrent for many voters than cold temperatures.

“Many voters are more willing to stand in line on a cold, clear day,” Krause said. “That is not the case if it is raining.”

So far, weather hasn’t deterred local voters, officials said.

“We haven’t had any weather problems,” Fowler said.

Officials also said a ban on election-related swag hasn’t caused any reportable issues at the precincts.

“We’ve not heard one complaint from any of our poll workers,” Davis said.