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Republican Mitt Romney rode a steady and huge voter turnout to an overwhelming victory in Shelby County’s vote for president on Tuesday.
Romney, following the performance of John McCain in 2008, soundly defeated President Barack Obama, earning more than 63 percent. Romney carried more the statewide vote as well.
In his loss to Obama in 2008, McCain earned nearly 62 percent of the vote in Shelby County.
Romney’s victory was the hallmark of the day that saw 66.6 percent of Shelby County’s 28,231 registered voters flock to the polls in the most contentious presidential race since 2000.
Observers and precinct workers saw heavy turnouts starting very early this morning.
Clyde Tharp, a poll worker at the voting precinct at Shelby County Area Technology Center, said at 9 a.m. that nearly 300 already had voted.
“They started lining up before we opened at six o’clock,” Penny Reynolds, an election officer at Waddy, said at 7 a.m. “We have been very busy, very steady.”
There were longer lines than normal at the Shelby County Fairgrounds and at Stratton Center. At the Todds Point precinct, the turnout surpassed 50 percent by just after 1 p.m., and poll workers there were predicting turnout would reach 80 percent.
Shelby County Clerk Sue Carole Perry had predicted a turnout of about 70 percent based on absentee ballots, but the surge early seemed as if even that mark would be an underestimate.
“When I went to vote this morning, everybody was all fired up, and very enthusiastic,” Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty, a Democrat, said. “And it’s no wonder. We’ve got the presidential race, we’ve got our new congressional district, plus city council and school board. And what’s more, it’s a just a beautiful day to vote. No one should have any reason why they can’t go vote today.”
Perry said there were few problems with voting as the day unfolded.
“We had issues this morning, had a hard time getting open because some precinct officers didn’t show up,” she said. “I prayed real hard last night and this morning both that everything would go well.
“We had another machine that crashed, but we took a spare out there [at Persimmon Ridge]. It’s the same place where it broke down in May, at F-106, it was an eSlate this time, instead of an eScan.
“The main thing today is the phone ringing off the wall for all these people that didn’t change their address. If they show up somewhere to vote, and their name’s not on the book, then they call our office,and we check to see if they are registered in Shelby County, and if they are registered, we have to verify their address, and they have to go vote where ever they live, if they’re registered in Shelby County.
“You have to live in a precinct 30 days to vote. I couldn’t tell you how many it was. And some of them, when they go to get their driver’s license, when they ask them if they want to register to vote, some of them say no and its says in the computer, they declined. And then they want to argue with you.
Sentinel-News staff writers Todd Martin and Lisa King contributed to this report.