Mel Wetzel pulled into the Godette Community Center polling place to cast his vote at the curbside Tuesday.

Mel Wetzel pulled into the Godette Community Center polling place to cast his vote at the curbside Tuesday because his 20-year-old replacement knee was bothering him and he didn’t want to stand in line.

The first time the 93-year-old ever voted it was for Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

“It’s a privilege we have that a lot of other people don’t have and if we don’t vote we’re going to lose,” said the World War II veteran. “If everybody in this country voted, we’d have a different country. We’d have a better country. Right now we don’t even get 50 percent, which is a shame. I think it is a dirty shame that people don’t get out there and vote.”

Wetzel said that no matter what race it is, he’s going to cast a ballot.

“If somebody ran for dog catcher, I’d vote because that’s a privilege we have, to vote,” Wetzel said.

A lot more than dog catcher was on the ballot Tuesday as voters turned out to determine federal, state and local races.

People were in a voting mood and that included 3-year-old Brenden Garnette, whose family members came to vote. Not wanting to be excluded, the child nearly cried saying he wanted to cast a ballot. Fortunately, Amy Perry was there to let Brenden fill out a sample ballot, which had the effect of a real one for the child.

Andrew Hankerson, 25, came out to vote for Barack Obama

“I just felt it’s important for the young population to come out and fight for their rights and vote to get what they want,” he said. “You can’t turn nothing back if you don’t make an effort to change it. That’s it.”

Bianaca Hankerson also felt voting was important.

“We all should make our voice heard about who should lead our country for the next four years and for our young generations to come out and vote because our ancestors fought very hard for us to have this right,” she said.

She said she voted for Obama for president.

“I just like what he stands for and about his stand on education and helping the poor and building this country up,” she said. “I just have a lot of confidence in him and I like the way that he’s been doing it these past four years and I want to see what else he can do in the future.”

Rose Parks, of Havelock, was equally as passionate about her choice of Obama’s challenger, Mitt Romney, who got her vote.

“I’m Republican and I want my taxes to go down,” she said. “I want to write a smaller check on April 15th,” Parks said.

Mary McClenny, of Harlowe, threw her vote towards Romney on concerns that it would help her military family.

“We’re military and there’s been a lot of cuts to the military families,” she said. “We were already broke and now we’re just plain poor. They’re cutting a lot of spending for overseas. My husband’s been twice already. I just feel that if they’re going to send him overseas to fight for our country then we should protect them as much as possible.”

Clarissa Bell was passionate about how she voted.

“I love my Obama and my Democrats,” she said.

Lisa Paul, of Adams Creek, voted for Romney.

“We need a big change so I voted different,” she said. “I just feel like he’s going to bring us a change. That’s what we need.

“I think it’s everything - health care, economy, jobs - everything. We need to bring religion, Christianity and family back together. It needs to be brought back into the world instead of taken out. The Pledge of Allegiance needs to be brought back and respected.”

Melody Frazier said women’s issues prompted her to vote for Obama

“My issue is just as far as women’s rights, the freedom to have a choice to do what they want with their own bodies,” the Havelock voter said. “We really haven’t given him a chance to prove himself. The things he stands for I stand for as well.”

Heidi Lewis cited the economy as the reason why she voted for Romney.

“We cannot have four more years of downed economy, no more jobs,” she said. “My jobs at jeopardy and I voted for someone who is going to make sure I have a job to support my family.”

In an election so hotly contested, Democrats and Republicans found one issue on which they could agree – staying dry.

As rain showers fell in the early afternoon, members of the Young Republicans Club from New Bern High gathered under a tent with the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of the West Havelock Precinct as they sought to sway voters on their way to cast ballots at Tucker Creek Middle School.

“I’m the Democratic chair for West Havelock, but it was raining,” Mary Shaw joked of joining the young Republicans under the same tent.

Those campaigning said the rain wouldn’t slow their efforts and hadn’t slowed the voting.

“I think it’s at about the same pace as it was before,” said Carol Hale, campaigning for her husband David Hale’s bid for Board of Education. “I haven’t really noticed a difference. They’re just not stopping as much in the rain.”

Tina Rowe was supporting the efforts of her husband, Clint Rowe, in his bid for district court judge. While asking people to vote for her husband, she had another role.

“That’s the main thing we’ve been doing, helping people with directions,” she said.

At the Havelock East Precinct, voters had to be given directions to other polling sites.

“We had to turn away some, some from Carteret County, some from Onslow County, one from Greenville, and all because they thought they could come here and vote and they have to vote in their precinct,” said Susie Bare, chief precinct judge.

Bare said turnout was heavier than the last presidential election in 2008. She said 7,100 people turned out for early voting alone in Havelock.

“The people are coming out earlier because this election is so important, especially the young people,” she said. “There are a lot more young people coming out. They are showing an interest.”

Early voting may have come some of the lines shorter on Tuesday.

“Regardless, I was prepared to wait today,” McClenny said of voting. “It’s something that if you feel very strongly about, it shouldn’t matter how long the wait is. It’s our right. We’re here to vote. It’s something else that our men and women for the country have fought for, the right to vote. Regardless of how long we have to stand out here, I think it’s important.”

Terry Blakeslee of Adams Creek said voting gives him a voice.

“If I don’t do it, I don’t have a voice and whether I agree or disagree with someone in the government or agree or disagree with their policies, the only way I can really do anything about it every four years is to come out here and vote,” he said. “I may not always get the candidate I want and they may not always do what I want but I have at least made an effort to have things go the way I feel this country should go.”