Voters must register by April 11 for primary

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 8, 2014

Big changes are in store for voters going to the polls in the upcoming primary, and Rowan County Board of Elections officials are urging voters to be prepared ahead of time.
Rowan County residents who are not registered and who wish to vote must register by April 11, and voters who have moved since the last election must change their address by the same date.
Election officials said citizens no longer will be able to register and vote at any one-stop site.
“We are not yet sure what type of shift we will see with the new rules,” said Laura Russell, elections specialist with the board of elections. “Not having straight-party voting will certainly affect the voters’ choices because they will have to mark each individual candidate rather than filling in one bubble.”
In the past, same-day registration numbers have fluctuated.
In the 2010 general election, 975 voters participated in same-day registration compared to 4,640 in the 2012 general election and 656 in the 2012 primary, Russell said.
“The number varies according to the type of election and what is on the ballot,” Russell said.
Absentee ballot applications will be available beginning March 18 at the elections office.
An immediate relative may fill out an application for a ballot to be sent to a voter who is out of town such as a college student or a voter who is confined to the home and cannot get to the polls.
The deadline for applying for an absentee ballot to be mailed is 5 p.m. on April 29.
One-stop no excuse voting will begin at the headquarters of the Rowan Public Library on April 24 and be open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The location also will be open April 26 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and May 3 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
No one-stop voting will be located at the board of elections office.
One-stop sites that will be open are at the South Rowan Library and Rockwell American Legion Building.
At both locations, voting will start on April 25 and end May 2.
The polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as during the same hours April 26.
Both locations will be closed on April 27.
“(People need to) make sure (their) voter registration is updated before April 11. A lot of rules have changed, so voters need to be aware there will be new processes in place at the polls, and it may take a little more time to vote,” Russell said.
While voter identification is not yet required, Russell said poll workers will be asking if voters have valid identification.
“They will not be required to show it. The purpose of this is to inform voters who do not have a valid ID how to obtain one,” Russell said. “Overall, things have changed, and going to the polls will not be as it’s always been.”
If needed, a second primary will be held June 24 — or July 15 for federal offices. The south and east voting sites will not be open if a second primary is scheduled, election officials said.
Polling places for two precincts also have been changed.
The new polling place for Rockwell is the Rockwell American Legion Building, and the new polling place for West Ward II is Maupin Avenue Presbyterian Church.
The elections office has mail-in voter registration forms available which must be postmarked no later than Apr. 11 to be a valid application to register for the primary.
For more information, call the board of elections office at 216-8140.