Election official predicts large voter turnout in Newton
46 percent already have cast their ballot

COVINGTON - Early voting was still going strong Friday, the last chance to vote before Election Day.

Lines were longer Friday than any other day of early voting, though Newton County Board of Elections Chairman Hugh Steele said the wait wasn't as bad as in other counties, guessing no one waited more than an hour.

By 3 p.m., about 46 percent of the county's 52,735 registered voters had cast ballots, according to the Board of Elections.

"Everybody is saying there's going to be a huge turnout. I think overall there will be a fantastic turnout here in Newton County, probably more than 90 percent," Steele said.

But, six weeks of early voting may help to shorten lines, he said.

"I believe our lines won't be any worse Tuesday than they were four years ago. We had long lines then. I'm not trying to fool anybody. But I'm saying the lines will be manageable," he said.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Results will be tabulated at the Board of Elections Office, located in the Newton County Administration Building at 1113 Usher St., Suite 103.

The general public is asked to view results in the jury impaneling room at the Newton County Judicial Center, located at 1132 Usher St. The room is accessible through the side entrance of the building. The Newton County Sheriff's Office is hoping this alternative location will help prevent overcrowding and potential violation of safety and fire codes at the Board of Elections, according to Capt. Doug Kitchens. News coverage of national and state races will also be available at the Judicial Center.

Results will be posted in a meeting room across from the BOE office, as well.

With some predicting riots or violence on election night regardless of how the presidential race turns out, and some major cities increasing police presence, Sheriff Joe Nichols said his office is prepared if necessary, but, "We hope all predictions about problems election night don't come to pass. We're hoping for the best."

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.