Watauga County still a player in Presidential politics

BOONE, NC (WBTV) - With the election just a few weeks away the push is on to sway undecided voters across the country. One place that still has many voters trying to decide is Watauga County, North Carolina.

Most of the registered voters there are college students but officials at the Board of Elections say most of them are registered as unaffiliated, and many, it appears, have not made their minds up yet as to who they will vote for in the presidential race.

Since August, more than five thousand students have registered to vote with more than half of the new voters shying away from any political party and putting down unaffiliated as to where they stand.

"I haven't made my mind up yet for this election," said one student as he signed the voter registration paper on Wednesday.

Watauga County's vote in the past three presidential elections all wound up being on the winning side. Obama won here in 2008 with George W. Bush winning the previous two votes. In each case it wasn't even close.

Board of Elections Director Jane Hodges thinks the majority of the young voters do pay attention to both sides before making their decisions. She is expecting a good turnout again this year. "We're hoping for as high as 70% turnout."

With so many voters registering as unaffiliated and saying they still haven't made up their minds, it means campaigns for both sides still have a chance to sway voters and make a difference. "We are definitely energized," said one worker at the Republican Headquarters in Boone.

Folks at the local Obama Campaign office could be seen making phone calls to voters but declined to comment on the race or allow photographs inside the office on Wednesday.

Officials expect both sides to be working hard in the coming weeks.

Hodges said her staff is getting ready for early voting to begin next week and already has a large stack of absentee ballots that have been filled out and returned. She expects that stack to continue to grow.

Hodges won't make any predictions as to who may win the in the races this year. She had only one wish: "we just want everyone to come out and vote."

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