Oct 27, 2016
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA — One of thousands of early voters at the Guilford County Courthouse in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Early voting is off to a fair start in the battleground state of North Carolina. Voters on both sides of the political divide are highly motivated by the presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
"The disparity between the two candidates is so pronounced it kind of made me just want to jump in my car and get out here and vote today," said Herrick, an Independent.
"The illegals are coming in here taking people's jobs. I am retired, but it still makes me mad," Hutchinson said.
Early polling survey suggest Clinton is doing well in North Carolina, while Trump is showing strength in Ohio.
"I'll tell you what, we're doing well in the polls," said Trump.
"But the easier you make it to register and vote, the more people vote," said Charles Prysby, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. "It is going to increase turnout overall, but not exactly the same for both parties. The general belief is it benefits Democrats more than Republicans."
Voting rights have been the source of major political and legal battles in North Carolina since 2013. That's when the Republican-controlled legislature passed a law limiting early voting hours, and required the voters to show photo identification. Lawmakers said the aim was to prevent voter fraud.
"We strongly supported our state's voter ID laws and believed it was essential that we have common sense protections to ensure that people are who they say they are when they go to vote," said Ricky Diaz, a spokesman for the North Carolina Republican Party in Raleigh.
Earlier this year, an appeals court struck down the voting law, citing evidence that lawmakers used data on black voting patterns before crafting the legislation.
The controversy surrounding voting rights motivated some people to cast their ballot early.
"Do not let anybody suppress your right to vote, because I remember the time when my ancestors could not vote,” said African-American voter Thomas Fowler. “But we have a right and an opportunity to vote, and I think we should."
"I think it's necessary for folks to have the option of early voting and to deny that is denying us the process for which we get to speak about our elections," said Chris Winchester, a Democrat.
As the popularity of early voting grows in the state, officials say there is likely to be more early voting in the future.