Record number register to vote in Wayne
By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 28, 2008 12:21 AM
More than 2,000 people have registered to vote in Wayne County since the May primary, and there are no signs that registration is slowing down as the 5 p.m. Oct. 10 deadline nears.
But even then, people still will be able to register and vote on the same day during one-stop voting Oct. 16 through Nov 1.
The last day to make changes in registration such as address or name is Oct. 10 at 5 p.m..
The Board of Elections office also has seen an increase in the number of people seeking voter registration forms. Anyone may pick up the forms, but people who pick up more than just a few are required to complete a form that is open to public inspection at the Board of Elections' office.
The returned forms are scanned into the computer system and the data entered. The information is then reviewed by a person who did not enter it for verification.
Since the May primary, and as of Tuesday, Sept. 23, the county had registered 2,150 new voters -- 951 Democrats, 549 Republicans, 646 unaffiliated and 4 Libertarians.
Of the total, 811 are black; 1,099 white; 1,036 female; 965 males; and 149 did not list gender.
As of Sept. 23, there were 64,894 registered voters -- 32,645 Democrats; 20,968 Republicans; 11,271 unaffiliated; and 10 Libertarians.
The total includes 20,955 black; 41,669 white; 35,942 females; and 28,264 males.
Meanwhile, to make registration as easy as possible, portions of the voter registration forms that must be completed are highlighted with a yellow marker.
"We go through a lot of yellow highlighters," Board of Elections Director Vicikie Reed said.
The flood of new voters and demand for the forms are being driven by the interest in the presidential race, she said. However, she added, there also is much interest in the state District 5 Senate race as well as the local commissioners' and school board contests.
Ms. Reed noted that because of the many districts involved that the county has 28 different ballots.
To accommodate the anticipated historic voter turnout, the county is expanding its one-stop voting.
"We are expecting 50 percent of the voters to vote prior to the election," she said.
The county will operate three one-stop voting sites from Oct. 16 through Nov. 1 at the Wayne County Public Library, 1001 E. Ash St., Dudley Fire Station, 4533 U.S. 117 Alt. South, Dudley, and Woodmen of the World, 3733 U.S. 117 north.
The hours of operation will be Monday and Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.; and Saturday, Nov. 1 (final day) 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Because of the expected heavy turnout, two additional sites will be open during week prior to the election -- Oct. 25- Nov. 1 at Fremont Town Hall, 120 E. Main St., Fremont and Johnston Ambulance Service, 2803 U.S. 70 west Goldsboro. The hours of operation will be Saturday, Oct. 25 throughFriday, Oct. 31, 1-5 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The county currently has 160 Democratic poll workers for the general election, but still needs about another 50 Republicans. Ms. Reed said the plan is to have 15 workers at each one-stop location.
Another date for voters to remember is Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 5 p.m., the deadline to request an absentee by mail ballot. Absentee ballots must be returned by Monday, Nov. 3, at 5 p.m., the day before the election.
The fastest way to receive an absentee by mail ballot is to mail a written letter to the Wayne County Board of Elections, 2009 S. William St., Goldsboro, N.C. 27530.
The letter should include name, date of birth, physical address, mailing address (if different from physical address) and election date for which the ballot is needed (in this case Tuesday, Nov. 4). The letter must be signed.
Once the information is verified, an absentee application and ballot will be mailed.
People also may go to the Board of Elections' office to request an absentee ballot or have a near relative make the request.
A near relative, Ms. Reed said, includes verified guardian, spouse, parent, child, stepchild, grandchild, grandparent and in-law.
A near relative also may enter the voting booth with a voter.
"Any voter is allowed to ask for assistance," Ms. Reed said. "We are not allowed to go up and say 'do you need help.' Voters, who because of blindness, illiteracy or disability, may ask someone, even if they don't know them, to help them."
But, she added, the person cannot be someone like a voter's boss or union leader.
"The person who helps cannot keep notes on how the person voted, cannot discuss it and is not allowed to use sample or marked ballot to help the person vote," she said.
There are no rules governing who may transport people to the polls, she said.
People who are able to make it to the polls, but for some reason are not able to enter the polling place may use curbside voting.
Curbside voting is set up outside the polling place, but not in handicapped spaces, she said.
A curbside official takes the ballot, along with a privacy envelope, to the vehicle. After voting the person puts the ballot in the envelope, the poll worker takes it back in and puts it into the vote tabulator.
Ms. Reed said the county received a $10,000 grant to fund a mass mailing to the county's voters. The mailed form is for people to correct changes in addresses and names. Even if there are no changes, people are asked to sign and return the form.
"If people miss doing that when they arrive at the polls they can be transferred to their correct polling place," Ms. Reed said. "If they still do not want to go they can cast a provisional ballot. If you want to vote there are a lot of ways of doing it."
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