Written by: John Boyle, Asheville Citizen Times
Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, voting likely will take more time in coming elections.
And much of that could stem largely from cutting the number of days for early voting from 17 to 10, a restriction that cleared the state legislature last week as part of broad changes in voting rules.
Setting aside all politics - and there have been plenty surrounding the Republican-driven voting changes - the numbers show early voting has proved popular with voters since its inception in 2000.
Roughly two-thirds of all voters in presidential elections have voted early in Buncombe County.
In Henderson County, more people voted early in 2012 than did on Election Day, creating lines at some early voting locations.
"On key days, we were already running an hour to an hour and a half to vote," county Board of Elections Director Beverly Cunningham said.
"I can't say there will be fewer people voting, but there definitely will be some longer lines," she said.
Henderson County early voting sites were averaging about 2,000 people a day in 2008.
In 2004, people waited in line for up to three hours to cast a ballot on Election Day.
Early voting in the elections has become an increasingly popular way to avoid those lines.
Some 83,500 people voted early in 2012 in Buncombe. Board of Elections statistics show the percentage of early voters has steadily risen, from 8 percent in 2002 to 69 percent last year.
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