Long lines form in-person early voting begins in North Carolina

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY/AP) — Long lines have formed at polling places across North Carolina as the battleground state kicked off early voting.

Early voting locations opened Thursday morning in all 100 counties.

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“We waited for about 45 minutes to an hour,” New Hanover County Resident Caitlyn Campagna said.

“So far about an hour, but the line is moving pretty quickly,” New Hanover County Resident Jerry Razor said.

Lines wrapped around buildings in New Hanover County and into parking lots in Brunswick County with hundreds of voters taking time to participate in democracy.

“If you have a chance to participate in shaping your own future, then I think that you should show up and participate,” New Hanover County Resident Micaela Cleary said.

Some residents say waiting in line wasn’t that big of a deal for them.

“Truthfully, we all spend 45 minutes on TikTok every morning,” Cleary said. “We can stand in line for 45 minutes.”

Cleary and two of her friends say everyone should make time to vote, but prepared to stand in lines. They say you should bring some water in case you get hot and friends to help pass the time in line.

“It’s our civic duty and I really think the future is ours. It’s our generation’s and I think this election is really going to show that,” Campagna said.

In New Hanover County, the Senior Resource Center had a bumpy start due to technical difficulties, but were able to get everything up and running by 8:30AM.

In Brunswick County, lines at the Leland Cultural Arts Center wrapped around the building and into a neighboring parking lot.

“This is a very important election and I think everybody’s going to get out and vote early.” Brunswick County Resident George Dedrick said. “As time goes on the lines are only going to get longer. It’s a beautiful day so why not do it.”

Brunswick County Board of Elections Director Sara Knotts says there are no electronic voting machines and ballots take about 45 seconds to print. Some voters say they think that could be a reason for the extra long lines, but Knotts says it does seem busier than previous years.

Another Brunswick County Resident Tom Roland says he’s voted early in every election.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had to wait in line which means this is a very important election to everybody,” Roland said.

Despite the long wait, he says he was happy to see such a great turnout.

“So I’m with everybody. Let’s all vote, I don’t care what party you’re voting for, it’s important to vote,” Roland said.

The in-person early voting option continues until Oct. 31 and allows someone to vote at any voting center in their county of residence.

More than 60% of the ballots cast in 2016 in North Carolina were cast through early in-person voting. That percentage likely will be less because 500,000 people already have cast ballots by mail.

Find your early voting polling place here.

President Donald Trump planned to hold a rally Thursday afternoon in Greenville, while Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris had to cancel her appearances in Charlotte and Asheville after a staffer tested positive for coronavirus.