Lines at Johnston County polling places on Election Day were often short – if they existed at all.
Perhaps that was because more than 43 percent of Johnston County’s registered voters cast their ballots early. Of the county’s 122,455 registered voters, 52,692 voted early, according to the N.C. Board of Elections.
Johnston had a number of local contested races on its Nov. 8 ballot – for school board, county commissioner, N.C. House and Senate and District Court judge. Voters also weighed in on off-premise beer and wine sales in Johnston County and Clayton.
By noon Tuesday, about 300 North Smithfield Precinct voters had cast their ballots at the Smithfield Church of God on U.S. 70 Business. Poll workers expected another 500 or voters by 7:30 p.m. At the First Baptist Church Ministry Center on South Fourth Street, home to East Smithfield Precinct voters, the line at 2 p.m. was about half-dozen people deep.
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Inside the polling places, voters and poll workers greeted each other as friends and neighbors. They cracked jokes and asked about each other’s families. But once they had cast their ballots, voters were more subdued.
Crazy, disappointing, frustrating, depressing. Those were the words Johnstonians used over and over again to describe how they felt about the 2016 campaign season and the choices before them.
“I’m glad it’s over with,” said Dorothy B. Allen, 64, who works Heavner Furniture Market. “It’s kind of hilarious, but it’s also frustrating.”
“It’s been crazy,” said Elnora Blue, 75. “It’s outrageous some of the things they say and the bickering. No wonder nothing ever gets done ... All you ever see is negativity. It’s so disappointing. I’m just so glad it’s over.”
“It’s a crazy year, but you just have to pray and then vote and then pray about it,” said Patricia Brunty, 68, who retired from a career in retail. “God already knows who’s going to win, but it’s up to us to stand up for what we believe in.”
Abbie Bennett: 910-849-2827; @AbbieRBennett