Local Politics

Early Voting Opens for May 6 Primary

The system allows voters to register as well as complete ballots at designated polling places in each county.

Posted Updated

RALEIGH, N.C. — Citizens who have made up their minds on candidates in the May 6 primary got their first chance to act on their choices Thursday as early voting opened at designated polling places.

Officially known as "absentee one-stop voting," the process runs through May 3, and some polling places will have Saturday voting opportunities in addition to weekday voting.

"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.

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.

By 3:30 p.m. Thursday, more than 9,500 people had cast ballots statewide. Another 5,500 people have already mailed in their absentee ballots for the primary.

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.

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

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 give his or her name, date of birth and county and see the ballot for his or her voting precinct at the Web site.

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.



Cullen Browder, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Ron Gallagher, Web Editor
Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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