Updated 05/08/2012 11:45 AM
Controversial marriage amendment boosts voter turnout
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RALEIGH -- It's primary election day and polls opened across the state Tuesday morning. Voters are casting their ballot in the primary election.
The tight Democratic race for governor is drawing a lot of attention, but it is the marriage amendment that's really expected to drive a high number of voters to the polls.
After more than a year of debates and rallies, voters want to decide whether or not the state constitution should recognize marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
For Michelle Pridgen and other voters, it's more than exercising their constitutional right that's creating long lines at the polls.
"I think that amendment issue is really big for people this year," she said.
With signs, calls and commercials, the marriage amendment has been a hot topic the past few weeks.
"We've seen a lot of visibility on the liberal side," said voter Russell Carraway. "Probably we're going to get a much larger turnout on the conservative side than people realize."
For or against, voters notice bigger crowds this election.
"Well I thought coming at 6:30 a.m. would be a piece of cake, but yes, it's been quite busy," said Pridgen.
The state board of elections believes primary voter turnout could set a new record.
"First of all there is a constitutional amendment that statewide has got a lot of people interested," said Gary Bartlett, the NC Board of Elections director. "And, you have more Republican primaries than we've ever had in the state's history."
As the anxiety builds until the final ballot is counted, voters like Pridgen wait for a decision that could impact North Carolina's future.
A majority of the vote is needed for the amendment to pass meaning a simple "yes" or "no" vote could make all the difference.
Polls close at 7:30 p.m. To avoid lines, the board of elections director recommends avoiding the afternoon rush between 11 and 1 p.m. and the night rush between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.