People lined up by the hundreds for much of Friday in Oklahoma City to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting ahead of Tuesday's general election.
Voters arrived as early as 4 a.m. at the building housing the Oklahoma County Election Board at 4202 N Lincoln Blvd., even though doors didn't open until 8 a.m.
Throughout much of a sun-drenched and unseasonably warm day, when temperatures reached the mid-80s, a line of people about the length of a football field stretched along the east side of the building. People found refuge under an overhang, but by noon, the line stretched into the uncovered parking lot. Cars trying to enter the lot were backed up for blocks on southbound Lincoln. By 4 p.m., the line had dwindled to just a few people waiting outside the office doors.
“I was delighted I had to stand in it,” Carolee Galbraith, 78, of Oklahoma City, said of her 75-minute wait in line at midday.
“I'm proud of everybody turning out.”
Voting ended at 6 p.m. Friday, but it will continue from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday at county election board offices across the state.
On Tuesday, people who don't want to vote early can do so from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at their regular polling places.
Paul Ziriax, secretary of the state Election Board, said turnout Friday was the heaviest since the last presidential election, but it still was too early to know whether this year's vote totals would exceed 2008, when more than 1.46 million votes were cast statewide.
“Certainly we've had very good turnout so far,” Ziriax said Friday afternoon. “At this point, things seem to be going very smoothly.”
A minor glitch was reported Friday in McClain County, where an early morning problem knocked out one of three computers that election officials were using in Purcell to verify voter registration.
“It happened at the beginning of the day when we had a long line,” said Marilyn McReynolds, McClain County Election Board secretary. “But we managed it and it worked out just fine, and we took care of everybody.”
She estimated voters may have been delayed five minutes.
What voters said
For those who cast ballots Friday, it marked the end of what has been one of the most expensive, contentious and divisive presidential campaigns in memory. The Oklahoman approached several people after they voted in Oklahoma City and asked them to discuss their decision. A few declined, but many willingly offered their thoughts.
For Audrey Hogue, 21, of Newalla, Friday provided her first opportunity to cast a ballot in a presidential election. It went to Republican challenger Mitt Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.
“I believe in what they stand for,” Hogue said. “I'm sick of putting up with what's happened the last four years.”
Jasper Davis voted for only the second time in a presidential election. The Oklahoma City resident will be 62 on Monday. Badgering from his landlord and a television ad that drove home the importance of every vote convinced him to cast a ballot, he said.