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Crowds form for early voting
Newton County residents line up outside the Newton County Administration Building for early voting. (File | The Covington News)

A line began to form at 8 a.m. and continued at least through lunch at the Newton County Administration Building Monday morning.

What was the reason for the crowd? Early voting for the 2016 General Election.

More than 100 people cast their ballot before lunch on the first day of early voting, with polls open at the Newton County Administration Building, 1113 Usher Street.

Early voting will continue at the Administration Building Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Nov. 4, as well as a chance to vote on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Early voting is open at the Porter Memorial Branch of the Newton County Library, 6191 Highway 212, Oct. 31 through Nov. 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

All of those dates provide many a chance to beat the crowds of the Nov. 8 General Election.

“The early bird gets the worm,” said Herbert Sears, waiting in line to vote Monday. “I didn’t want to get caught up in the rush of the week. I figured I had the opportunity now so I was going to take it.”

Marcello Banes, who is running for Newton County Chair, was campaigning Monday just beyond 150 feet from the polling place, said the crowd was constant all morning.

“I think it is a great turnout for the community,” Banes said. “The line has been around the corner pretty much all day.”

According to Angela Mantle, Director of the Newton County Board of Elections, 71,059 voters are registered in the county. Of those registered voters, 58,192 are active voters and 12,867 are inactive voters. Inactive voters are those who have not cast a vote in the previous two federal elections.

During the March Presidential Preference Primary there were 51,295 registered active voters, with 43.18 percent voting.

Turnout was higher for the most recent presidential election with 74.97 percent of the 43,435 active Newton County registered voters casting a ballot.

“In the primary you could go in there and vote pretty much in two or three minutes,” said Banes, who has been standing on Pace Street near the Administration Building during the primary and the primary runoff. “I think we’ll see this type of turnout for the rest of the early voting cycle.”