Election officials gear-up for primary

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 23, 2004

JACKSON -If former election statistics are any indication of registered voter turnout in Northampton County for the 2004 elections at local, state and national levels, it might be headed for serious trouble.

According to reports from the Northampton County Board of Elections, only 47 percent of registered voters cast their ballot in the last General Election in 2002.

&uot;These are devastating statistics,&uot; said Northampton Board of Elections Director Tonya Pitts. &uot;In the 2000 Presidential General Election, only 59 percent of registered voters came out to the polls.&uot;

At present, the Elections Department is gearing up for the Primary, which has been rescheduled to take place on July 20 due to debates concerning redistricting. The primary will include referendums for water and school bonds with polls opening at 6:30 a.m. and closing at 7:30 p.m. to accommodate voters.

The filing period will begin at noon on Monday, April 26 and end at noon on Friday, May 7. Although absentee ballots are currently available upon request, the earliest date that ballots will be required to be made available for voters mailing their cards is May 31.

&uot;We have tried to make the voting process as convenient as possible,&uot; said Pitts. &uot;If a resident is already registered but isn’t sure of whether or not their voter registration card reflects the correct 9-1-1 physical address or if a resident has not yet registered to vote, they can either contact our office or visit our website online.&uot;

At last count, which was at the beginning of March, the total number of registered voters in the county was 13,803 according to statistical data from the Board.

Of the 7,238 voters that turned out at the polls in 2002, 5,745 were registered Democrats while 713 were registered Republicans with Unaffiliated party designation and Libertarian making up the remaining 780.

From an ethnic standpoint 4,243 African Americans made it to the polls in 2002 with Caucasian voters accounting for 2,948. American Indians, Asians and other races comprised the remaining ballots with a total of 4,128 being female voters and 3,110 being male.

Pitts cautioned those planning to vote in the upcoming Primary to register by June 25 as that is the last day to register to vote in that election.

One stop absentee voting will take place in the auxiliary office adjacent to the Board of Elections office in the J.W. Faison Administrative Building from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30-5 p.m. Monday, July 1 through Friday July 16 with Saturday July 17 open from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

&uot;Voting is a privilege as well as a right,&uot; said Pitts. &uot;Our forefathers worked hard to ensure that all people had a voice and they dedicated their time to designing a system of government that would represent those voices.

&uot;Northampton County has made every effort to offer services that make it easier for our citizens to exercise that right so there is no excuse not to vote. This is their government too and their vote does count.&uot;

For questions or concerns, feel free to contact the Northampton County Board of Elections at 534-5681 or via email at Northampton.boe@ncmail.net.

Please keep in mind that although the office is getting very busy with election preparations, the staff will return calls or messages as soon as possible.