Early voting off to fast start in NC

Posted October 23, 2014 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated October 23, 2014 6:10 p.m. EDT

— Registered voters who can't wait until Election Day to decide on U.S. Senate and down-ballot races now have the opportunity to vote in person across North Carolina.

The 10-day early voting period began Thursday morning in all 100 counties. It runs through midday Nov. 1. Some counties also are offering Sunday voting this weekend.

At the Wake County Board of Elections office in downtown Raleigh, about 100 people an hour were casting early ballots.

"Lines have been long everywhere, but the line has been moving," said Brian Pypiak, an early-voting supervisor in Wake County. "We've had a lot of happy voters out there, which is always good to see."

Mary Meletiou, who cast an early ballot in Raleigh with her husband on Thursday morning.

"I think the convenience of early voting is wonderful," Meletiou said. "I also like the idea that my vote gets counted early."

"I don't have enough time to be a procrastinator. I work full time, I'm in school, so yes, (early voting) is a must," Trici'a Simmons said. "This is a priority. It is a privilege as well, but it's definitely a priority."

Various changes are in effect this year following the adoption of an elections law by state legislators last year.

There is no longer same-day registration during early voting. There was an Oct. 10 deadline to register.

Straight-ticket voting is no longer allowed. Voters this fall are choosing legislators, judges and local leaders.

The early voting period has been cut from 17 to 10 days, although many sites are staying open later so the same number of hours are available for early voting as in past elections.

"We find that the hours of 11 (a.m.) to 7 (p.m.) at our satellite sites give the voters the most opportunity to vote," Pypiak said. "That way, you can get a little bit of the morning, definitely for the lunch rush and then a few hours after work."

Mail-in absentee ballots can still be requested, but they must be turned in or postmarked by Election Day.

Also, poll workers will ask each voter if he or she has a valid photo ID and will provide information for how to get one to people who don't. Photo identification isn't needed in this election but will be required as of 2016.

Candidates and groups are using early voting's first day to draw attention to election contests and issues. The North Carolina Association of Educators and a group of black pastors scheduled separate events.