What does it take to make early voting a success in North Carolina? More early voting sites? Checking your registration? It is getting to be that time again and advocacy groups are pressing for additional early voting sites so as to avoid long lines and/or bottlenecks. What does it take to enfranchise the most voters?
General Election – Nov. 4
Last day to register to vote: 10/10
Mail-In Voting: 9/15 – 10/28
One Stop Reg. and Voting: 10/16 – 11/1
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We really don’t know how many sites we will need when the November election roll around, but of course, we want to be prepared. The question is – what is the best plan of action and what are our options? How many sites are enough?
More does not mean better:
The whole purpose of early voting sites is defeated if they aren’t run efficiently. The biggest challenge will be to staff early voting sites, according to several election directors around the state. Well run sites with good parking are key. Adding more sites, if you can’t adequately staff them, makes matters worse for the voters. Shortages of poll workers lead to frustrated voters, long delays, and confusion. More volunteers are desperately needed to work the early voting sites. The average age of a poll worker is 72. It is time for more people to step in.
It is up to concerned citizens to volunteer to work at the polls. The only way our democracy can truly work is by turning concern into action and becoming part of the solution. Helping voters and assisting elections officials is a simple, supportive and paid way to do this. Interested citizens should contact their County Board of Elections right away to volunteer.
Voters can streamline the process by checking now to see that they are properly registered and that their information is up to date. This information is available on the State Board of Elections website or can be verified with you county elections office.
First time voters should always bring some sort of identification with them just in case. Take along any valid photo I.D., a utility bill, or government document addressed to you when you vote. Even if you aren’t a first time voter, it helps to bring ID. When you do vote, bring a friend or neighbor.
Without volunteers (they do get paid though), the Board of Elections cannot run one stop sites. About 1/3 of all votes in NC are cast early, the rest are cast on election day. Waiting time is much shorter on election day when voting at your precinct but you don’t have a second chance to correct faulty registration information as you would during early voting.
Early voting offers a bigger choice of voting times, but longer waiting, as there are fewer sites serving more people. During early voting, people can register to vote if they have not already done so. If you decide to vote early, then you may be able to reduce your wait by going earlier in the day. GOTV efforts should consider this as well, to reduce bottle necks that occur when everyone waits until the end of the day.