Passion motivates voters on both sides in Forsyth

Voters waited to cast their ballots at the Beeson's Crossing polling place near Kernersville.

Traffic at the Beeson’s Crossing Fire Department near Kernersville was brisk this morning. When the polling place opened at 6:30 a.m., about 30 people waited outside to vote, and four hours later 227 had cast their ballots.

Beeson’s Crossing might be a bellwether in Forsyth County for the Romney campaign’s hopes to put North Carolina back in the red column. In 2008, 68.2 percent of voters in the precinct favored Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

“There seems to be more enthusiasm on the Republican side,” said John Meroney Sr., a poll worker who was handing out voting cards to promote candidates. “Many of the voters have more of a sense of urgency.”  

He said a group of Kernersville Republicans have been meeting over the past year to help promote their ticket. They exceeded fundraising goals to pay for a booth at the Dixie Classic Fair and finance phone banking. 

“I’ve probably made several hundred phone calls,” Meroney said. “One of my neighbors called on me and told me he was walking our street to encourage people to vote. I said, ‘I’m in there right now finishing up my list of calls.’” 

Debbie Griffin, a voter at Beeson’s Crossing who described Republican 5th Congressional District candidate Virginia Foxx as a hero, said she is worried about the preservation of Medicare and isn’t overly enthusiastic about either presidential candidate. Without naming her choice, she said one candidate has completely lost her trust and another doesn’t inspire full confidence. 

Griffin is also concerned about illegal immigration. 

“There are too many people coming to this country illegally,” she said. “They’re taking services that they didn’t pay for. I see these old ladies that gave up their sons, fathers and husbands in wars to keep our country free, and there’s nothing here for them.” 

Traffic was slow and steady at two heavily Democratic-leaning precincts in Winston-Salem, in contrast, where voters nonetheless expressed strong support for President Barack Obama. 

“I couldn’t sleep because I was up all night thinking about this election,” said Meranda White. “It’s an election that will affect me. It’s going to affect my kids. I live in public housing; I might be homeless.” 

White brought her 4-year-old son to the 14th Street Recreation Center and was the seventh person in line to vote when the polls opened. 

The relatively light turnout in Democratic-leaning precincts might be a function of out-sized participation in early voting by Democratic voters. US Rep. Mel Watt, who greeted voters outside Carver High School this morning, said 71 percent of voters in the 12th Congressional District took part in early voting. The 12th is one of two minority-majority districts and one of three with high percentages of registered Democrats.

Sadie Webster, a retired nursing professor at Winston-Salem State University who is a member of the first nursing class in 1957, said she was voting in honor of her mother, whose birthday was Nov. 6. 

“I’m a staunch supporter of our president,” Webster said. “I’m so excited about what he stands for. He has worked extremely hard for four years in spite of adversity. I feel like if he’s reelected, he’s going to accomplish more. He’s a leader for all people.” 

Paid poll workers handed out fliers for the NC Values Coalition at both the 14th Street Recreation Center and Carver High School polling places. The fliers support NC Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby, who is seeking election, along with three candidates for NC Court of Appeals, David Robinson, Marty McGee and Chris Dillon. The flier urges, “If you believe marriage is between one man and one woman, vote for these judicial candidates. Their opponents are endorsed by radical homosexual activist group Equality NC.” 

14th Street and Carver High School are both precincts with heavy African-American registration where Obama carried upwards of 98 percent of the vote four years ago. 

“If I could just give you this literature, whatever you do with it is up to you,” Sabriya Clark told voters outside the 14th Street Recreation Center. 

An Obama supporter who described herself as “one of the 47 percent,” Clark said some poll workers had expressed anxiety about the reception they expected from voters receiving the flier, but that she was happy to work and needed the money to cover rent.

US Rep. Mel Watt visited with Rodney Woods and Dexter A. Felder outside the Carver High School polling place this morning.

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