AAC & NAACP suggest additional ‘One-Stop’ sites

Published 8:47 am Thursday, January 15, 2015

WINTON – At its monthly meeting last week, the Hertford County Board of Elections heard from a citizens group that would like to see One-Stop voting apply to all elections held in the county.

Members of the county’s African-American Caucus and the NAACP appeared before the board during its public hearing session to present their request which the elections board took no action on but pledged to consider in the future.

By early voting, a voter, during a period beginning 18 days before an election and ending on the Saturday before the election, may cast a ballot at pre-determined places throughout his or her county in a way that feels very much like regular voting but is in fact absentee voting.

To be more precise, “early voting” is really One-Stop no-excuse absentee voting at designated sites around the county.  Each element of that description came along at a different time.

Absentee voting in some form has been carried out in the Tar Heel state in some form since 1977.

Under North Carolina law, beginning 12 days before an election, all counties in the state must open at least one location where citizens can vote early. This is sometimes called “One-Stop Absentee Voting” or “In-Person Absentee Voting” because you are voting early in person and you will be “absent” on Election Day.

During Presidential election years, when a larger turnout is anticipated, there are three One-Stop voting locations in Hertford County: Murfreesboro, Ahoskie, and Winton.

Since 2014 was a non-Presidential election year, there was just a single One-Stop voting polling place: the Board of Elections Office on King Street.

Actually, because of the small space of the office, the polling was moved to the Cooperative Extension Office on nearby Tryon Street.

“It was just too much for our office,” said Board of Elections Director Sheila Privott.  “Due to the amount of space we had, and the number of voters we anticipated, we made the decision to move.”

Privott would not attribute cost as the primary factor in the reduction of One-Stop polling places in 2014, but did indicate that the county picks up the cost for the county workers who work the polls.

“Our decision was based on what was done in the past during non-Presidential election years,” Privott said.  “It’s based on voter turnout and what we have done in the past.”

Privott went on to point out that the state mandates the amount of time (in man-hours) that the One-Stop polls may remain open.   For 2014 it was 106.5 hours, including for the primaries.

“We don’t know how many hours we will be allowed to be open in 2016 because that decision has not been made yet,” she added.

2015 is a municipal election year and no state or federal offices are up for balloting. According to Privott, each municipality is responsible for funding their individual elections, including run-offs.

“We want the voters in the county to know that (the elections board) are not trying to minimize voting,” Privott maintained. “We want to give everyone in the county the opportunity to cast their vote.”