By Rick Kennedy, Wednesday update
As across the county and state, Tuesday’s midterm elections brought record numbers of citizens to the polls in Hempstead County; when all was counted, some 4,993 Hempstead voters cast ballots in the cycle, including absentee and early voting.
The count of 4,993 voters represented almost half, or 46.69-percent, of the registered Hempstead County voters, which the county clerk’s office reported as being 10,692.
Election Commissioner Richard Wade said afterwards as final totals were finally released after 10 p.m. Tuesday night, “All day, it looked like we had half the county voting, and it turned out that we were nearly there. This was a huge turnout for us, bigger than the last Presidential election.”
A spokesperson in the Hempstead County Clerk’s office noted that although Hempstead County has 10,692 registered voters on the rolls, that approximately 8,200 of them are considered “active voters,” all of whom have actually participated in recent and/or consecutive elections.
“That we had 4,993 Hempstead voters today with 8,200 ‘active voters’ makes this turnout even more impressive,” she said.
Wade had been traveling the county, visiting sites all day, and he had seen a big lines at Spring Hill and Hope as the final hour of voting was approaching Tuesday. Right at 7:30 p.m., estimated lines of 75 persons were still waiting at Hope’s Fair Park Coliseum to vote.
Early voting numbers, reported at 7:49 p.m., showed 2,038 ballots were cast; the final report coming in at 10:03 p.m. reflected 4,993 ballots cast. The last voting center reporting was Bingen, approximately 29 miles north of Hope.
Hope’s Fair Park Coliseum voting center was reported first at 8:48 p.m., about 1-hour 18 minutes after the official closing time at 7:30 p.m., which was remarkable considering the number of voters still in line at time.
— Original story from Tuesday, 7:24 p.m. —
As night fell and Election Day was in its final hour, hordes of people were still driving into Hope’s Fair Park Coliseum, where lines of voters 70 deep were still waiting.
Election Commissioner Lori West at Fair Park said 1,188 had voted there as of 7 p.m. with two lengthy lines still waiting. Election Commissioner Richard Wade reported similar traffic at Spring Hill, where a line over 50 was still there at night fall.
Upon seeing the crowd at Fair Park, Wade said, “We will be lucky if we have them all out of here by 8:30 p.m.”
Wade said that voters in line with their ballots in hand as the polls officially closed at 7:30 would still be eligible to vote.
“We are legally obligated to let them cast their ballot; if they are through the doorway at 7:30 or already standing there in line, we have to let them vote, even if it takes an hour overtime.”
Lines were reported being as much as 75 deep at Hope’s Fair Park as many citizens left work and headed to the polls.