Local Politics

Redistricting, referendums produces profusion of ballots

Posted August 9, 2012 6:28 p.m. EDT
Updated August 9, 2012 6:59 p.m. EDT

— Elections officials are predicting slower voting lines at the poll this fall because of an explosion in the number of ballot styles and a lengthy list of contested races.

Four years ago, there were 47 different ballot styles in Wake County, but redistricting that split precincts and a number of local bond issues and other referendums have more than doubled that to 102 this November.

"It will probably take a voter longer to exercise the complete right to vote," county elections director Cherie Poucher said Thursday.

Poucher's office had to use 19-inch-long paper to print this year's ballot, several inches longer than the sheets used in the past.

"The ballot is going to be much larger," she said.

To handle the profusion of ballot styles across Wake County, poll workers will be equipped with scanners.

"You check the authorization to vote with the scanner, and then you pick the ballot style to make sure the voter's getting the correct ballot style," she said.

Even with 15 days of early voting, Poucher said she expects there will be times area polls clog up due to voter volume and slower voting.

"Yes, there are times you're going to have to wait," she said, urging voters to study up on the candidates and issues ahead of time so they know how they plan to vote before heading to the polls.

People could also vote absentee by mail to avoid the lines, she said.

Wake County is spending more than $1.7 million this year to handle early voting, which is more than in 2008, and Poucher said her staff should be able to deal with all the ballot changes without significant budget changes.