Local Politics

Hundreds in Wake Cast Early Primary Ballots

Posted April 18, 2008

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— Hundreds of Wake County voters have taken advantage of "one-stop voting," the opportunity to register and vote all at once in advance of North Carolina's May 6 primary.

Early voting opened at designated polling places Thursday. Through mid-day Friday, 750 people had cast their ballots, Wake Board of Elections Director Cherie Poucher reported.

The process runs through May 3, and some polling places will have Saturday voting opportunities in addition to weekday voting. It is open to registered as well as new voters.

"If you participate, you have a larger voice in the way your government runs," said Gary Bartlett, executive director of the State Board of Elections.

Bartlett said about one-third of voters statewide will likely cast an early ballot.

The early voting was designed for voters who expected to be unable to vote on election day, but it also provides an option for people who want to avoid crowds that day at their local polling places.

Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, one of the leading candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, cast an early ballot in her hometown of New Bern. Meanwhile, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser and new student body president J.J. Raynor cast their early ballots in Chapel Hill.

Primary elections in presidential election years traditionally attract 16 to 31 percent of registered voters, but Bartlett predicted a turnout of more than 40 percent this year because of heightened interest in the tight Democratic race between presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Under a new state law, first-time voters also can register at the early voting locations before casting a ballot at that polling place. They need to bring appropriate identification, such as a driver's license with a current address or other government identification. The entire list of accepted identification and other procedures is explained on the elections board's Web site.

"Same-day registration means one thing in North Carolina: That's more people involved in the civic franchise," said Damon Circosta, director of political programs and operations for the North Carolina Center for Voter Education.

"Same-day registration is simple, straightforward election reform that is proven to help voter turnout," said Lynice Williams, executive director of North Carolina Fair Share, which lobbied for the change in state law.

The elections board has a county-by-county list of early voting sites online. It also is possible for each voter to enter his or her name, date of birth and county on the Web site and see the ballot for his or her voting precinct.

The entire ballot, including the Democratic presidential primary, is available.

In the Triangle, Durham County lists three early voting sites, Orange County lists four and Wake County lists nine. Johnston and Chatham counties have three each.

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