One-stop voting begins as voter-registration forms continue pouring in
By Jessie Burchette
Voting in the May 6 primary is now under way as county election officials dig their way out of a mountain of last minute registrations.
A total of 174 voted Thursday on the first day of one-stop voting. Thousands are expected to take advantage of early voting by the May 3 deadline.
Registration drives mounted in part by Democratic presidential campaigns have added hundreds of new voters.
The registration forms continuing to arrive Thursday in the mail or from the State Board of Elections.
Nancy Evans, county elections director, predicted her staff will need another week to work through the estimated 1,000 new forms that have arrived.
Evans said incomplete information combined with almost illegible writing is making it difficult to process many of the forms.
In some cases, the forms have partial addresses.
Adding to the confusion, some registration forms sent to Rowan are apparently for residents of Cabarrus County.
Since the 2002 election, voter registration rolls in Rowan have increased by more than 5,000, and Evans expects that number to climb by several hundred more once the forms are processed and checked.
The latest figures show Democratic registration at 30,993, down from 32,101 in 2002. During the same period Republican registration has increased from 24,684 to 36,445.
The biggest change has come in unaffiliated voters, an increase of almost 4,000, from 13,827 to 17,713.
Evans, who has worked in the elections office for 20 years, said registration drives are cyclical but usually occur before the fall election, not primaries.
“This is not what we normally get for a primary,” said Evans, adding that the state’s potential pivotal role in the Democratic presidential primary is attracting voters.
While the official registration deadline is passed, a new law allows unregistered voters to register and vote at the one-stop sites.
They must provide identification which can be a driver’s license or similar type of ID.
Evans noted that all one-stop votes are electronically tagged. If it turns out a voter is registered elsewhere or votes elsewhere or some other problem occurs that makes them ineligible, the vote won’t be counted ó much like a standard paper absentee ballot.
The elections staff is expecting a large turnout next Thursday when students from Catawba and Livingstone colleges plan to march to the West Innes Street office to vote.
Evans said she has advised march organizers to expect long lines because of the limited number of voting machines available.
One-stop voting gets under way at the Tadlock South Rowan Library today and expands to the East Branch Library on April 21.
Hours for the sites will vary slightly.
Here is a list of the sites, dates and times:
– Board of Elections Office: Monday-Friday, today through May 2, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; May 3, the only Saturday the Election’s Office will open, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
– Tadlock South Branch Library: Today-May 2, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; May 3, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The library is located at 920 Kimball Road, China Grove.
– East Branch Library ó Monday, April 21-Friday, April 25, and May 2, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; May 3, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The East Branch Library is located at 110 Broad St., Rockwell.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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