Voter registration deadline coming soon
SALISBURY - People who hope to vote in the 2012 general election have a little less than two weeks to register.
In the month of September, Rowan County processed 640 new registrations and more than 6,000 changes.
"I would say that's normal for a presidential year," said County Elections Director Nancy Evans.
As of Sept. 4, 91,862 people were registered to vote in Rowan County. Of those, 37,680 are Republicans, 31,572 are Democrats, 148 are Libertarians and 22,462 are unaffiliated.
Active voters in Rowan County whose addresses haven't changed do not need to re-register.
But people who have moved or who haven't voted in several elections will need to fill out a new voter registration form.
The forms are available in the county elections office, Evans said, and they can also be found at local libraries, hospitals and social services offices. In addition, people can print forms from the county website at www.rowancountync.gov.
"They need to make sure that it's in our office by 5 p.m. on Friday the 12th, or postmarked by that date," Evans said.
Voter registration forms should be brought in or mailed to the Rowan County Board of Elections, 130 W. Innes St., Salisbury, NC 28144.
To register to vote in Rowan County, a person must be a U.S. citizen, be at least 18 years old and live in the county for 30 days prior to an election. Convicted felons may not vote unless they have completed all parts of their sentence or they have been pardoned.
Similar bills became law in several other states, and a few of those are still being challenged in court with Election Day in just over a month.
North Carolinians, though, still do not have to show identification when they vote - unless they skipped a step when they registered.
The voter registration form asks for a name, residence address, mailing address, date of birth and signature. A registrant also must provide either a valid North Carolina driver's license number or the last four digits of his or her Social Security number.
"If they don't give that, then they have to show ID when they go vote," Evans said.
She said this also applies to unreadable or incorrect numbers. Rowan County just sent out second-notice letters telling 1,192 voters that if they don't respond with valid ID numbers, they will have to show identification at the polls.
"People are calling and asking if they have to provide ID, and we pull them up in the computer to check if they have to or not," Evans said. "I guess (the voter ID bill) is prompting people to check, because there's a lot of talk out there about it."
As it continues to add voters to the registration list, the county elections office also checks for those who need to be removed.
The office gets a monthly list from the state health department, along with notifications from area hospitals and grieving family members, identifying local residents who have recently died. If a voter's name and other information matches someone on that list, the person is taken off the rolls.
"If we have any doubt whatsoever that it's not that person, we don't take them off," Evans said. "We have, in the past, had to resurrect somebody. ... They just went to vote and their name wasn't there, but they were standing there very much alive."
Because of these precautions, a small number of people might still be counted as registered voters even though they aren't counted among the living. But Evans said she doesn't know of a time when anyone in Rowan County has been caught voting - or trying to vote - using a dead person's name.
Voters are also removed from the county's rolls when they register in another county or state, because it's illegal to be registered to vote in two places at once.
Evans said she wants everyone in Rowan County to remember the Oct. 12 deadline for voter registration.
Thanks to a 2007 law, though, North Carolinians who miss that date will have one more chance to participate in this fall's election. People can register to vote at a one-stop early voting site during the early voting period from Oct. 18 to Nov. 3.
Registrants who use this method must bring proof of residency and identification. A full list of acceptable documents is available online at www.rowancountync.gov by clicking the "Departments" drop-down menu at the left and choosing "Board of Elections."
For more information about voter registration, call the Rowan County Board of Elections at 704-216-8140.