Let the voting begin

Absentee voters cast ballots at Elections Office on Tuesday

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Carol Parr, right, assist Helen James with filling out a request form for an absentee ballot Tuesday at the Kootenai County Elections Office in Coeur d'Alene.

COEUR d'ALENE - Kootenai County residents steered into a packed parking lot at the Elections Office on Tuesday.

The office front door flew open again and again, ushering in a steady stream of citizens antsy to jump on the first day of in-person absentee voting.

By the end of the day, 253 had filled out ballots, said Elections Manager Carrie Phillips.

"We expected a busy day, and that's what happened," a tired Phillips said on Tuesday afternoon.

This kind of bustle isn't common preceding most elections, Phillips said. Obviously, the presidential election has an atypical allure.

A bulk of the crowd registered before voting, she added, which also "tends to be the case for presidential elections."

Some who voted were about to hasten out of town before temperatures drop. Others were just eager to act on their civic responsibility.

John and Susan Martin, leaving to winter in Tucson in a few days, lauded the early voting option after casting their ballots.

"Most people head off in the winter and don't want like to go down on election days, because there are long lines," said John, a Coeur d'Alene resident.

The elections staff was equipped for crowds. By the front counter, an extra table was positioned with a cheery greeter, directing voters on registration and paperwork.

Tables were pushed together, where folks hunched over absentee request forms. Ballots in hand, voters shuffled down the hall to snuggle up to a ballot box and select local and national leadership.

"It went really smooth," said Aloma Cardoza, standing outside the office with an "I voted" sticker displayed on her sweater.

She voted early to cast her support for President Obama, Cardoza said.

"I don't say that too loud," the Rathdrum woman said with a chuckle.

The Democrat is confident in her presidential candidate because "I'm a political junkie," she said. "I'm watching the polls and I think we're going to carry Ohio and Virginia."

Jerry Sparks, however, cast a ballot marked for Mitt Romney.

"I'm not happy with the way the economy is going. I want to see a change," said Sparks, adding his fixed income has been strained in recent years. "If we keep going the way it's going, it's a losing battle."

B.D. Nelson preferred to have his absentee ballot mailed to him and his wife, after they filled out request forms in person.

"We can take more time to study the issues and make a decision," Nelson explained.

Nelson touted participating in the election at all.

"If you vote and try to put in responsible people, then you have a little voice in your government and how it's run," the Hayden man said. "There are people who don't vote, yet they complain about how things are run."

In-person voting will be available through Friday, Nov. 2, at the Elections Office at 1808 N Third St. in Coeur d'Alene.

The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on two Saturdays, Oct. 20 and 27, for in-person voting.

The ballot includes the presidential race, three statewide referendums regarding schools, several county positions and North Idaho College trustees.

All races, and more election information, can be viewed at: www.kcgov.us/elections.

Voters should bring their photo ID, or can sign a personal identity affidavit if they don't have ID. Knowingly misstating facts on a personal identity affidavit is a felony.

Leona and Robert Neal voted on Tuesday because they think it will be a close election, they said.

It's wise for busy folks like them to vote early, Leona added.

"So we don't forget," she said.

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