10/15/04 — Residents mob one-stop voting ons opening day

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Residents mob one-stop voting ons opening day

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on October 15, 2004 2:00 PM

More than 1,000 Wayne County residents voted Thursday, the first day of one-stop voting.

"We knew it was going to be busy, but we had no idea that it was going to be that busy," Elections Director Gary Sims said.

One-stop voting generally starts slowly and gets busier as the deadline approaches. If this year follows that trend, Wayne County could have as many as 15,000 early voters, Sims said. That would equal a 25 percent turnout before the polls open Nov. 2.

Voting went smoothly, aside from networking problems that left polling places unable to access voter records. That forced pollworkers to call headquarters to confirm registrations, which slowed the process. The problems were resolved before noon.

"The good news is we had a backup plan in place and it worked," Sims said.

The Wayne County Public Library was the busiest site, with 545 voters, followed by Belfast Fire Station with 302 and Dudley Fire Station with 189.

Sims encouraged people who have moved within the county since the last election and did not notify the Elections Board of address changes to come to the one-stop sites, rather than the polling places on Nov. 2. Pollworkers can look up information and allow these people to vote on provisional ballots.

"It takes a little longer, but I promise that their votes will count," Sims said.

The library, 1001 E. Ash St., will be open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Belfast station, 3212 U.S. 117 North, and Dudley station, 4533 U.S. 117 Alternative South, will be open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

All three locations will also be open Saturday, Oct. 30, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. That will be the last day of one-stop voting.

Registered voters can go to any of the one-stop locations.

North Carolina has offered one-stop voting since the 2000 elections. About 6,900 Wayne County residents voted at the one-stop locations that year, and around 7,500 people voted early during the 2002 elections.