State News

Half of N.C. counties to extend early-voting hours

Posted October 31, 2008

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— Half of North Carolina's 100 counties voted at emergency meetings Friday to follow a state recommendation to extend early-voting hours on Saturday, according to the Governor's Office.

At emergency meetings Friday, the Wake, Chatham, Cumberland, Durham, Johnston and Lee county election boards unanimously voted to keep one-stop voting sites open an extra fours, until 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Orange and Franklin county boards voted unanimously to maintain the scheduled closing time of 1 p.m.

Gov. Mike Easley thanked boards that extending hours and sent a statement asking boards that declined to do so to reconsider their decision.

"We need to make the most of this basic right and responsibility available to every registered voter," Easley said in a written statement. "By simply extending early voting by a few hours now, we will make sure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to cast their ballots."

The State Board of Elections on Thursday told county boards to hold emergency meetings to consider extending voting hours Saturday. Under the mandate, only a unanimous vote could sustain a decision not to extend hours; if any board member wanted it, polls would stay open longer.

State board members said they wanted extra hours to cut down on long lines and accommodate the large voter turnout at one-stop sites.

More than 1.9 million people had cast a ballot at the state's 366 one-stop sites through 11 a.m. Friday. A total of more than 2.1 million North Carolinians – or 34 percent of all registered voters – had voted early, by mail or at a polling place.

Orange County had not experienced problems with excessively long lines and waits at one-stop sites, so the board did not see the need to extend hours, said Tracy Reams, with the Orange County Board of Elections. Reams said that although 43,000 Orange residents had voted early, the longest reported wait was 20 minutes.

Amy Southerland, chair of the Franklin County Board of Elections, said that board members wanted to give elections officials and workers ample time to prepare for Election Day itself.

In Raleigh, voters at a one-stop site in Pullen Park Friday were not happy with the hourlong wait.

"I'd prefer it be a lot shorter. I'd prefer it to be 15, 30 minutes, all over with," voter Sue Vines said.

John Gilbert, chair of the Wake County Board of Elections, said that such long waits convinced him that the state board's decision was correct. Through Thursday, more than 202,000 people had voted at one-stop sites in Wake.

Elections officials said that although the emergency meeting was arranged quickly, they carefully considered all factors – including where the money to pay voting-site staff will come from.

"Everyone, not only my staff but the early voting staff, is on overtime now, and they still have all day tomorrow," Cherie Poucher, Wake County's elections director, said.

29 Comments

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  • TeresaBee Oct 31, 2008

    Who thought of ending early voting at 1:00 anyway? And on a Saturday? And the last day of early voting?

  • mpheels Oct 31, 2008

    "if you know that different jobs make more money, apply for one of them"

    If we all did that then we wouldn't have any teachers, garbage collectors, mail carriers, farmers...

    "The amount of money a person makes is directly related to what society says it is worth based on how much it helps other people."

    I guess there is a conservative fantasy land to go with the liberal one I hear about all the time. The average American has absolutely no direct control over the salaries of others. You may be right about salaries being based on what society values, but that value often has very little to do with how much it helps others. If it did then teachers would make much, much more and oil executives much, much less.

  • anneonymousone Oct 31, 2008

    Be extra nice to the poll workers, regardless of the people or party/parties for whom you are voting; these folks make it possible for us to vote.

    ---another lefty for courtesy : }

  • GWALLY Oct 31, 2008

    original intent....you are SO RIGHT...!!! Major Corp's, insiders, lobbiest and the power brokers "contribute $$$$$$" to BOTH PARTIES....they could CARE LESS who actually wins!!!!!

  • lizard Oct 31, 2008

    mpheels - if you know that different jobs make more money, apply for one of them before O'bama is elected and tells you what you're gonna do.

    The amount of money a person makes is directly related to what society says it is worth based on how much it helps other people. There's a competition angle on it too.

  • mpheels Oct 31, 2008

    "if you want to make more money then get more education and find a better job"

    The problem is that there are a lot of jobs that are absolutely necessary to the functioning of our modern society, like driving the garbage truck, that don't pay enough for people to support them selves much less a family.

    I went to college and grad school for public health - my salary + benefits package is VERY competitive for my experience level and career field, but with student loans and living expenses I'm living pay check to paycheck, no extra $$ to put in savings (for when I buy a house, have kids...). Why is it that my peers with MBAs make 3-4 times what I do, even though we have equivalent levels of education/experience for out respective fields?

  • original intent Oct 31, 2008

    HA-HA-HA...What you plebes don't realize is the Demos/GOP are 2 branches of the same party..Do think the Rockefellers-Gates-Buffetts of the USA care who is in the White House?? NO! Because they have their "puppet strings" attached to them!! Do you think JP Morgan-Lehman Bros- Morgan Stanley-Citigroup,etc..would donate twice as much to Obama as to McCain(reported right here on CBS earlier this week),IF he weren't in THEIR hip pocket?? $603 million to run for president! And assuming the polls are anywhere near accurate and Obama wins...His 1st job will be to do THEIR bidding,,not ours...check out all the stories on vote fraud,by BOTH parties ..this election will make 2000 & 2004 look like they were fair & square!! I will keep saying it,RON PAUL was the only VIABLE candidate that wanted to follow that piece or paper now as our CONSTITUTION,,,not trample on it like the "major candidates" have...If most Americans knew their history Paul would be the GOP nominee and have 90% of the votes!

  • gr Oct 31, 2008

    THANDWINE - if you want to make more money then get more education and find a better job that's what I did and I dont want to share any more of mine.

  • Buddy1 Oct 31, 2008

    Suspicious of early voting? Really? Conspiracy theorize much?

  • fatcat11 Oct 31, 2008

    Wait until they begin on-line voting in the future...let the fraud begin...

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