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One Stop voting is busy

The votes are in and the winners are……..?

Actually, no one has yet been declared a winner in the 2004 General Election, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 2. But that fact hasn’t prevented any registered voter in the Roanoke-Chowan area from having an opportunity to cast an early ballot.

Election officials in all three local counties are extremely pleased with the turnout at their respective &uot;One-Stop&uot; voting locations.

One-Stop voting allows registered voters the opportunity to appear, in person, at their county’s Board of Election office, or approved One-Stop voting site. There, they can request an absentee ballot application, receive the absentee ballot and vote.

What makes One-Stop voting different from normal absentee voting is that it requires no excuse why the voter is casting a ballot prior to a scheduled election. It’s designed as a &uot;user-friendly&uot; method of voting, allowing a person to cast their ballot earlier than normal.

Since opening the One-Stop process on Oct. 14, election officials in Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties reported that business has been brisk.

&uot;If Monday and Tuesday of this week is any indication of things to come, then the rest of this week will be extremely busy,&uot; said Tonya Bowen, director of the Northampton County Board of Elections. &uot;On Tuesday alone, we had a total of 83 voters use the One Stop process here in the Jackson office. Our average for last week was 45 per day.&uot;

As of Wednesday morning, Bowen reported a total of 759 registered voters in the county had already cast their ballots by the One Stop method. In addition, 135 absentee ballots have already been returned, accounting for a total of 893 votes cast. That figure represents 6.3 percent of Northampton’s 14,244 registered voters.

That percentage is higher in Hertford County where Board of Elections Director Shelia Fleetwood reported a combined 1,266 voters had took part in the One Stop and mail-in absentee processes. Of the 14,789 registered voters in the county, 8.6 percent have already cast their ballots.

&uot;We’ve noted a large increase in the number of voters taking advantage of the no excuse, One Stop voting process,&uot; stated Fleetwood. &uot;We used a more aggressive approach this year to inform our citizens that they can avoid the rush on the traditional Election Day and vote early.&uot;

In Bertie, 1,032 of the county’s 14,459 registered voters (7.1 percent) had used the One Stop method by 12 noon on Wednesday.

&uot;We’ve still got a line ready to vote as I’m speaking to you,&uot; said Shirlie Davenport, Bertie’s Board of Elections Director when she answered the phone on Wednesday.

One-Stop voting in all three counties continues through Saturday at the following locations:

Bertie County Board of Elections office (Room 5 of the Old County Office Building, located at 204 South Queen Street in Windsor): Thursday and Friday (Oct. 28-29), 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday (Oct. 30), 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Hertford County voters are offered three One-Stop voting locations. They are (with times and dates) as follows:

Board of Elections office (700 North King Street, Winton), Thursday and Friday (Oct. 28-29), 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday (Oct. 30), 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Hertford County Middle School (Parent/Community Center, 1850 NC 11 North, Murfreesboro), Thursday and Friday (Oct. 28-29), 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday (Oct. 30), 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Ahoskie Nutrition Site (415 Holloman Ave., Ahoskie), Thursday and Friday (Oct. 28-29), 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday (Oct. 30), 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The following is a schedule of the One-Stop voting sites in Northampton County:

Board of Elections Office (9495 NC 305 North, Jackson), Thursday and Friday (Oct. 28-29), from 8:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. and 1:30-5 p.m. and Saturday (Oct. 30) from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

E.E. Odom Center (221 Craige St., Gaston): Thursday and Friday (Oct. 28-29), 10 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. and 1:30-6 p.m.; and Saturday (Oct. 30), 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, all local Board of Elections will adhere to the deadline of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 26 for applying for a normal absentee ballot. This request must be in writing. The deadline for returning absentee ballots (those voting away from their respective precincts due to sickness or disability) to the county offices is 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 1.

The 2004 General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Polling places throughout the Roanoke-Chowan area will operate between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

For additional information concerning any voting process, contact the Board of Elections office in your county of residence (Bertie: 794-5306), Hertford (358-7812) or Northampton (534-5681).