Voter turnout brisk in Western Tidewater

Published 11:12 am Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Larry Rose, left, and his wife, Yvonne, joke while campaigning for Barack Obama outside the Courtland Volunteer Fire Department as Southampton County Public School Board President Chris Smith looks on. Voting at the fire station was brisk. GWEN ALBERS/TIDEWATER NEWS

COURTLAND—Jason Dunaway this morning voted for Republican Mitt Romney, despite voting for President Barack Obama four years ago.

“He upheld none of his promises,” Dunaway said about Obama outside the Courtland Volunteer Fire Department, where 40 waited in line to vote in the Presidential Election 30 minutes after the polls opened.

Tiffany Wyche, 24, of Courtland sees things differently.

“I think he deserves another four years to make this world a better place,” said Wyche, who voted for Obama.

Dunaway and Wyche were among nearly 400 who voted at the precinct by mid-morning, said Chief Election Officer Charles Arrington.

“It’s been fabulous,” Arrington said. “We’ve had up to 50 in line.”

He expects a 75 percent turnout before the polls close at 7 p.m.

Southampton County Registrar of Voters Peggy Davis as of mid-morning heard the voting districts were busy.

“I hear everyone is busy, but I can’t give you numbers,” Davis said. “They’re (poll workers) calling every other minute to check on people to make sure they are registered and in the right precinct.”

She had no predictions for today’s turnout; nationwide, 52 percent of registered voters are expected to cast ballots, according to a published report.

Paul Kaplan, precinct chief for the Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library poll site, said 345 had voted by 10:45 a.m.

“And the line is long,” Kaplan said.

In the past, he’s seen “lulls” at about 10 a.m.

“We haven’t had a lull today,” Kaplan said. “It feels like it will be a big turnout.”

At Carrsville Volunteer Fire Department, about 15 people were waiting outside when the polls opened at 7 a.m., said Chief Election Officer Stella Bradshaw.

“We’ve had 34 percent vote already and have 818 voters,” Bradshaw said nearly three hours after the polls opened. “That’s very good for us. We’re hoping for at least 70 percent. The way we’re going, we will get that easily.”

Back at the fire station in Courtland, Patricia Whitfield didn’t have time to wait in line because she needed to get to work. The 55-year-old, who planned to return later today, remained undecided on her choice for President, yet was leaning toward the pro-life candidate.

In supporting Romney, Dunaway, 33, noted he was financially better off four years ago. A construction worker from Courtland, he has seen his income drop nearly 20 percent over the last four years.

Wyche’s mother also planned to vote for Obama.

“I feel he needs four more years,” said Shirley Easter, a 45-year-old employee of Deerfield Correctional Center in Capron. “I’m worried because if he don’t get re-elected, the world will be a mess for our kids.”

Her son-in-law Joel Ricks agrees.

“I feel Obama needs my vote,” said the 24-year-old, who was voting in his first Presidential election.