Local News

Wake Co. Growth Brings Potential For More Early-Voting Sites

Posted November 6, 2006 7:36 a.m. EST

— Wake County elections officials are looking to bring early voting to more convenient locations in 2008.

Officials say population growth and increased voter turnout are driving the need. By 2008, the county could add 40 new precincts -- each precinct costing about $10,000 just to provide voting equipment.

"If more of the people do take advantage of the early voting, that would possibly alleviate the need for the additional precincts," said Board of Elections Director Cherie Pouch.

This year, more than 26,000 Wake County residents voted at nine early-voting sites before the early-voting period ended Saturday. That was an increase from about 18,000 during the last mid-term election in 2002.

In 2008, elections officials anticipate needing as many as 20 early-voting sites. Poucher, however, said it is getting more difficult to find facilities to house the sites because state law mandates that early voting take place only in publicly financed buildings.

Because early voting would last eight days, some usual voting locations, such as schools and libraries, cannot afford the disruption or accommodate the space requirements, Poucher said.

Elections officials plan to lobby lawmakers to change the law so that voters could vote early at places such as local shopping malls or other privately owned but piblic available places. The RBC Center could also be a potential site.

"There'd be ample parking," Poucher said. "They're accessible, and (we could) put them in areas we know that people do go."

The idea has some voter support.

"If you got to run over to Target, or wherever, to pick up something, you can vote at the same time," said Wake County resident Patricia Weaver, who voted early. "Sure, why not get it done all at once?"