They lined up shoulder to shoulder inside the gray high-rise downtown, their politics as diverse as their backgrounds. An ex-felon who needs health insurance, followed by a high school student seeking empowerment, followed by a Marine Corps veteran who wants to prevent his country from crumbling.
Like hundreds of others, their quests led them to the Wake County voter services office earlier this month to register as Democrats for the first time. The line of newcomers that snaked across the checkered tile floor was emblematic of those that have formed across the country this year: black voters, young voters, lifelong Republicans switching parties -- all registering in record numbers, and all aligning as Democrats.
Elections Director Cherie Poucher waited for them behind a counter with a jar of pens and a 10-inch stack of registration forms. She had hired 10 people from a temp agency to help handle the rush on this final day of North Carolina voter registration. Now, as she watched four more people file through the door, Poucher wished she had hired more.
"In 20 years," she said, "I've never seen anything quite like it."