Published 11:04 am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A number of voters in Washington Parish, like those across America, were up early Tuesday so they could cast their ballots before heading off to work or at least before the expected long lines began to form.

At St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Bogalusa, 21 people had already voted in the first half hour after the doors opened at 6 a.m., and others were steadily streaming in to do the same.

Clerk of Court representative Kendra Davis sat at one table, coffee and biscuit within easy reach, and recorded the names of those who arrived to participate in the national process.

“Hopefully we’ll stay pretty smooth all day with no long lines,” she said.

Beside Davis, poll worker Elnora Dubb said she’d been up since 4 a.m. because she was afraid she might oversleep.

As she watched the flow of voters, Dubb said she was certain of the reason for the already good turnout.

“It’s the president,” she said. “I’m sure.”

Presidential elections traditionally draw the biggest crowds at the polls and those that are considered too close to call, like the race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, tend to increase efforts to get out the vote.

The ladies at the check-in tables were settling in for a long and busy day.

When the sky had fully brightened, just after 6:30 a.m., Ketta Johnson helped her mother, Annie Johnson, through the door.

The elder of the ladies said she had voted for quite a few presidential candidates in her long life, but she couldn’t remember who might have been the first.

She soon shuffled behind a curtain to do it again.

By 1:30 p.m. new Washington Parish Registrar of Voters Randy Strickland was trying to sip a little soup at his desk.

He said the office phone had been ringing non-stop with calls from commissioners and individuals since he arrived at 5:15 a.m.

“It’s definitely a trial by fire,” Strickland said. “It’s going good, but extremely busy.”

He said he hadn’t yet heard of any long waits in line to vote locally, although some polling places did have “10 or 15 people in line when they opened up.”

“It’s been a wild day so far and I figure it will go another eight hours anyway,” Strickland said. “I think it’s going pretty good. It was real heavy this morning, and from 6 to 8 tonight it will really go.

“I think it’s going to be a really good turnout.”