04/09/08 — Wayne County voter registration closes this week for May 6 primary vote

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Wayne County voter registration closes this week for May 6 primary vote

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on April 9, 2008 2:30 PM

Voter registration for the May 6 primary ends Friday, but that doesn't necessarily mean residents won't be able to cast their ballots if they don't sign up by then, as same-day one-stop voting and registration will once again be available.

Currently, there are more than 62,700 registered voters in Wayne County -- nearly 1,900 of whom have registered since Jan. 1.

It is, said Wayne County Board of Elections Director Vickie Reed, an impressive number, especially since primaries usually feature relatively low voter turnout.

This year, though, there are a number of races on the ballot, including the presidential primaries, as well as congressional, legislative, county commission and gubernatorial primaries. Also up for consideration is the county's quarter-cent sales tax.

But Ms. Reed said that she believes it is the "presidential primary that's spurring (registration) here" -- especially as new Democratic voters are outpacing new Republican voters by a margin of nearly two to one.

For people wishing to register to vote by Friday -- the only way to be eligible to cast a ballot on Primary Day on May 6 -- forms are available at all of the Wayne County Public Library branches, at the county Board of Elections' office on South William Street and on the board of elections' Web site, www.waynegov.com/ departments/boe/home-boe.asp.

The forms must be returned to the county Board of Elections office by 5 p.m., Friday. Friday also is the last day to change political parties or change voter information such as name or address.

"We have to have them here in the office by 5," Ms. Reed said.

One-stop voting will begin on April 17.

In Wayne County it will be held at the Goldsboro branch of the Wayne County Public Library on Ash Street, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The last day will be from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 3.

People registering to vote at one-stop will be required to provide either a driver's license, the last four digits of their Social Security number or a form showing their name and address -- the same forms as are required to register by Friday -- but Ms. Reed said that she is not expecting a large number of people to take advantage of the option.

"We haven't really heard anybody (say they expect a large on-stop registration turnout)," she said. "We've been encouraging people all along to come in and register to vote by Friday, but it is an opportunity that is available."

Additionally, the last day absentee ballots may be requested is April 29. They must be turned in by 5 p.m., May 5.

And on Primary Day, May 6, the polls will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

One other important item to note, Ms. Reed said, is that 17-year-olds are eligible to vote in the May primary -- as long as they will turn 18 before the Nov. 4 election.

They will not, however, be able to vote on the sales tax referendum.

"If they're going to be 18 by the November election they can vote on everything but the referendum. Because they're not legally adults, they can't legally vote on tax issues," she explained.

She also reminded people that when requesting absentee ballots and at the polls, whether at one-stop or on Primary Day, unaffiliated voters need to remember to let workers know which ballot style they want -- Democratic, Republican or unaffiliated. Unaffiliated voters can vote in any primary and choosing does not affect party registration, but the unaffiliated ballot does not include any partisan races.

And so for now, Ms. Reed said, it's just a matter of finishing last-minute preparations.

"(Machine) testing is going on as we speak and we're starting poll worker training. I'm confident we're ready," she said.