Republicans carry Suffolk

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

President George W. Bush carried Suffolk in what many have called the most important presidential election in a generation.

Bush had won 17,280 votes – or 59 percent -of the votes as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, said Patsy Parker, the city’s registrar. The results from one polling site were still out at that time.

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With 11,845 votes, Sen. John Kerry pulled in just over 40 percent of the city’s presidential votes.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-4th District, received 17,280 votes in Suffolk. His challenger, 26-year-old political newcomer Jonathon R. Menefee, received 11,845 votes from Suffolk.

Bucking national trends of record voter turnout, Suffolk residents showed up at the polls at approximately the same rate they did during Bush’s first election four years ago, Parker said.

She said 24,589 of the city’s 38,678 registered voters – 64 percent – participated in the 2000 election.

At press time Tuesday, 30,307 of the 46,504 registered voters – 65 percent – had cast ballots.

Despite numbers that hovered at the same level as Bush’s previous election, poll workers and campaign volunteers said voter turnout appeared higher than usual across the city.

Several polling sites had people lined up when polls opened at 6 a.m.

Nearly 50 people were lined up outside the Morgan Memorial Library at 6 a.m. Tuesday, waiting to hit the polls before heading to work.

At the same time in Chuckatuck, a line of voters was standing 40 feet deep at the fire station to cast their ballots.

&uot;I’ve never seen anything like the turnout this year,&uot; said Niecie Garner, who worked the polls in Chuckatuck for the Suffolk Republican Party.

Nearly 800 of the 1,700 registered voters in Chuckatuck had cast their ballots as of 1 p.m., said poll worker Virginia Chambers.

Typically, voter turnout in a presidential election is about 60 percent, she said. She expected it to reach 80 percent in Chuckatuck this year.

An unusually high number of voters had also hit the Lakeside polling site by mid-day, said poll worker Tom Rountree. More than a third of Lakeside’s 2,800 registered voters – 1,069 – had cast their ballots by 1:30 p.m.

&uot;We were busy all morning and we’ve had a steady crowd coming in since around 11:45 a.m.,&uot; he said.

Volunteers stumping for Bush outside the downtown Suffolk library said voter participation appears high.

&uot;A lot of my neighbors are coming in,&uot; said teenager Danielle Ginther, who spent the day distributing Republican sample ballots at the library.

&uot;I don’t know anyone who is not voting in this election,&uot; said Cheryl Ketchum, who was talking to her neighbors outside the Lakeside polling site. &uot;I think a lot of people realize the future of our country, as far as moral and social issues go, is in the hand of out next president.&uot;

The fact that it’s the first election since 9-11 probably contributed to the high turnout, Garner added.

&uot;I think people probably feel like it’s the first time they have been able to do something,&uot; she added.