Early voting gets under way in NC



CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Early voting began in North Carolina Thursday at 8 a.m.

Long lines could be seen at the Hal Marshall Annex in uptown.  It is the first of 22 locations around the county to open Thursday.

View all early voting locations in Mecklenburg Co.

Dozens of President Barack Obama supporters arrived in uptown in an RV to march to get their vote in.

Volunteers and supporters told Channel 9 they wanted to vote Thursday morning because they have a lot more work to do.

“It gives us an opportunity to go all over the Carolinas, in Charlotte this week, encouraging people to vote early,” said Sen. Malcolm Graham.

The RV also stopped at UNC Charlotte later Thursday morning.

Outside Republican headquarters near uptown, Sen. Rick Santorum met with Mitt Romney supporters.

He said early voting helped the Obama campaign in 2008 and hopes it will do the same for the GOP this year.

“If Romney can show that same energy and enthusiasm and match or even exceed President Obama in early voting, we have a very, very good idea what column North Carolina will be in after Election Day,” Santorum said.

Romney’s son went door-to-door on Wednesday.  Both campaigns continued to push for voters in the state this week.

Voters can register and vote at the same time for early voting.

In 2008, 200,000 voters in Mecklenburg County took advantage of early voting.

The board of elections expects that many, possibly even more this year.

Voters waited in line for an hour four years ago.

Each of the battleground states, including North Carolina, has early voting going on.

In 2008, 30 percent of all votes nationwide for president were cast before Election Day.  Experts think that could increase to 35 percent this year.

Local political expert Michael Bitzer said this race is so close that each vote really will be important, which makes early voting just as important as Election Day.

Download a sample ballot for all counties in North Carolina.