Local Politics

Early voting calendar divides public, Wake elections board

Posted August 8, 2012

— Dozens of Wake County residents on Wednesday urged the county Board of Elections to provide as much time for early voting as possible before the November election.

Early voting has been a point of contention, with some wanting to eliminate Sunday voting to give poll workers a break and lessen the chances of voter fraud and others seeking to maximize the opportunity for people to cast ballots.

On Tuesday, the State Board of Elections had to resolve disputes on voting schedules for several counties, including Cumberland County.

On Wednesday, Wake County elections staff recommended opening 15 early voting sites across the county for 13 days in late October and early November, but they also offered 15- and 17-day options.

The county board, which was weighing how best to allocate its $1.76 million budget for early voting, heard numerous comments from people concerned that sites near them that have been used for early voting in the past might be closed this fall.

"People's right to vote is precious," resident Robert Hyman said.

"Voting is very important to me," said Rachel Turner, a North Carolina State University student.

"This is not the time to reduce the effort of people to get out to vote," Raleigh City Councilman Eugene Weeks told the board. "It's time for us to accommodate all people so they might be able to get out and vote."

In the end, the board voted on a complex plan that members said would provide more capacity for early voting than in 2008, when 235,000 ballots were cast before Election Day – that is 57 percent of registered voters in Wake County. Officials are projecting 272,000 early ballots this fall.

voting, early voting, one-stop voting, vote Wake residents push for plenty of early voting sites

Even that wasn't a unanimous vote, however.

Aida Havel, the Democratic chairwoman of the elections board, and Republican member Joshua Howard agreed to the plan, but Democratic member Kristi Tally voted no. She wanted to add a 16th site at Marsh Creek Community Center in east Raleigh.

"There's been an expressed need from our voters whom we serve that we need to place a site in that area," Tally said, adding that she might appeal the plan to the State Board of Elections.

As it now stands, the Board of Elections office and four so-called "super sites" will be open 15 days for early voting, while 10 other sites will be open 11 days. Sunday voting will be offered at all sites.

Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley, who sat through the board meeting, criticized the staggered early voting plan afterward.

"I think that's discriminating against the majority of Wake County voters to the benefit of a few," Gurley said, arguing that the super sites will help Democrats.

He said the Republican-controlled Wake County Board of Commissioners should give the early voting budget a second look, although the county has already put its 2012-13 budget in place.

"I think we should reduce the funding to where all the early voting sites are open the same number of days," he said.

Early voting will start on Oct. 18 at the Board of Elections office, at 337 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh. The office will be open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays until Nov. 2, as well as 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3.

The super sites – Cary Senior Center, at 120 Maury O'Dell Place in Cary; Chavis Community Center, at 505 Martin Luther King Blvd. in Raleigh; Optimist Community Center, at 5900 Whittier Drive in Raleigh; and Talley Student Center on the N.C. State campus – open on the Oct. 20-21 weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The remaining sites will open Oct. 24:

  • Apex Community Center, at 53 Hunter St. in Apex
  • H.C. Young Community Center, at 101 Wilkinson Ave. in Cary
  • Falcon Park Hut, at 105 Falcon Drive in Fuquay-Varina
  • Avery Street Recreation Center, at 201 Avery St. in Garner
  • W.E. Hunt Recreation Center, at 301 Stinson Ave. in Holly Springs
  • Knightdale Recreation Center, at 102 Lawson Ridge Road in Knightdale
  • Lake Lynn Community Center, at 7921 Ray Road in Raleigh
  • Wake Technical Community College campuses at 6600 Louisburg Road and 9101 Fayetteville Road in Raleigh
  • Northern Regional Center, at 350 E. Holding Ave. in Wake Forest

The super sites and the other 10 sites will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays until Nov. 2. They also will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3.

15 Comments

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  • WhatsInAName Aug 9, 2:30 p.m.

    "In the past 40 years, I think I've missed voting twice when something unexpected happened on voting day. Those that are serious about voting and cannot get to their regular polling place always have the opportunity to vote via an absentee ballot if they know about the problem ahead of time."

    I am serious about voting. I also work a job in which I travel weekly for business. I rarely know my schedule more than two days in advance. I have missed four of the last ten elections as a result. Why exactly does working hard and be responsible for the well-being of my family disqualify me from participating in our democracy? Our modern world requires hard working people to work unusual schedules, travel, etc. Our election laws assume everyone can find a time between 6am and 7pm to be near their residence on a workday. Either lengthen the times (like they did here), make election day a mandatory holiday, or allow people to vote remotely.

  • Crabbit Cratur Aug 9, 12:20 p.m.

    "Exactly why do they think there would be more fraud on Sunday than other days?"

    I think its a effort to restrict the Christian Vote :)

  • Ken D. Aug 9, 11:01 a.m.

    One reason given for doing away with Sunday voting is to lessen the chances for voter fraud. Exactly why do they think there would be more fraud on Sunday than other days?

  • mayhem Aug 9, 10:59 a.m.

    Hey Tony Gurley, pick up your signs! You left them up all over eastern N.C. well past the deadline after the early July runoff in which you got trounced by Dan Forest for the 'Pub lt-gov. nomination. Painfully obvious you were just looking for some cheap name recognition for your next state-wide run. Voters will remember next time that you either cannot or will not clean up your mess. Once one week passes after the election, your signs are just litter with your name on it!

  • nighthunter Aug 9, 10:48 a.m.

    In the past 40 years, I think I've missed voting twice when something unexpected happened on voting day. Those that are serious about voting and cannot get to their regular polling place always have the opportunity to vote via an absentee ballot if they know about the problem ahead of time. This "early voting" scenario is good in that it offers more opportunity, but is bad from the standpoint of increasing the costs.

  • Crabbit Cratur Aug 9, 10:25 a.m.

    ""Early voting calendar divides public"...sorry but the "public" doesn't care one bit and if they do, they lead a pretty uneventful life.Seriously...WHO CARES?????"

    Anyone with brains? people died to secure you the right to vote. Jim Crow type restrictions are nothing new in the South and the GOP wants them now for the same reasons the Dixiecrats wanted them in the 1950s. ie so they can gain and retain power.

  • Crabbit Cratur Aug 9, 10:21 a.m.

    "Early voteing just breeds extra votes and Democrats"

    And what would be wrong with that? Surely the more who vote the better in a democracy?

  • snshine62d Aug 9, 10:11 a.m.

    Early voteing just breeds extra votes and Democrats

    Exactly, that's what the GOP is trying to stop. They know the democrats will come out in large numbers and support their party.

  • luvbailey Aug 9, 9:43 a.m.

    I like early voting very much. I use it. I agree with Tony Gurley. All early voting sites should have the same schedule.

  • oleguy Aug 8, 7:21 p.m.

    Early voteing just breeds extra votes and Democrats

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