Lines go around the rotunda of the Jefferson County Courthouse and snake back down the hall as early voters wait to cast their ballots Saturday. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
Approximately 625 early voting ballots were marked Saturday at the Jefferson County Courthouse, and officials anticipate Monday will be even busier.
Senior Deputy County Clerk Katherine Wooldridge said when she arrived at the courthouse about 9:30 a.m. Saturday — around 30 minutes prior to the start of voting — two lines of voters had already formed, with one “rounding” the facility.
“I had to drive around the parking lot twice before I managed to find a parking place,” said Wooldridge. “It was twice as busy as it was last Saturday.”
Wooldridge estimated that “at least” 10,000 early ballots would have been marked through Saturday. Voting ended at 4 p.m., but a number of people were still in line outside the voting room at that time. The average wait was 70 minutes, Wooldridge said.
“But at one point, it was about two hours,” she said.
Early voting procrastinators and those who thought they might save time by waiting until Monday, the final day for early voting, may find that the process will require even more time, Wooldridge said. Wooldridge believes the final voting count will be higher than 2008’s.
Stu Soffer, a member of the county election commission, said Saturday he had received several complaints on the lengthy voting lines and County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson at one point requested that four additional voting machines be brought into the courthouse “to help ease the crunch.”
Soffer said he was forbidden by law to immediately fulfill Johnson’s request, but he’ll “try to have it done by Monday.” Through Saturday, seven machines were being used.
Monday, early voting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and voting on election day Tuesday will be held at polls from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.