For the upcoming presidential election, the Sampson County Board of Elections unanimously approved a 10-day early voting schedule which includes new hours to accommodate residents wanting to cast their ballots on Saturday.
Board members Horace Bass, Quincy Edgerton and Danny Jackson voted on the decision during a special Tuesday meeting. One-stop absentee voting will occur 10 days before the Nov. 8 presidential election. It will begin Thursday, Oct. 27, and continue through Saturday, Nov. 5.
In the past, the off-sites were open from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. But now they will open at 11 a.m. during the week and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays at various locations throughout the county. The recent change was made to satisfy a request to give residents a chance to vote early on two Saturdays (Oct. 29 or Nov. 5) and to meet state statutes for the total amount of polling hours.
Ashley Pate Tew, director of the Sampson County Board of Elections (BOE), stressed that one-stop voting can be done anywhere.
“If you live in Garland, but you work in Clinton, you can vote here in Clinton during one-stop,” she said. “During one-stop, you can vote at any of the sites that are open.”
On Election Day, voters must cast ballots at their designated polling places. But voters have several choices before the big day. North Carolina’s State Board of Elections requires voting boards to match polling hours from the previous election of the same caliber. During the 2012 presidential race, the total amount was 311 hours. Therefore, Sampson’s BOE must have a cumulative amount of voting hours among their sites in November.
Tew said they’re allowed to go over, but that amount will have to be matched on Nov. 3, 2020. That may come with more cost and it is something county officials are trying to avoid.
“When you talk about the budgetary parts of it, you’re talking about paying ‘x’ number of people at every polling place for those many hours,” Tew said. “So my board and our county, for budgetary reasons, wanted to stay around 311 hours, so it’s not costing the county and the taxpayers to run these sites.”
During a previous meeting, Tew reported that 311 hours were set, with the first Saturday cut, which raised a concern since that day was available in the past. To oblige, the Saturday was put back.
“We’re still staying at 311 hours, which makes the state happy and the county happy, but now we’ve added a Saturday,” Tew said.
State statutes require that all sites be open on the last day of voting on Saturday, Nov. 5. Tew said the changes will give residents three extra hours that they did not have.
The BOE office added an additional time to its Saturday and Sunday schedules to accommodate more voters. During weekdays, the office at 120 County Complex Road, Building F, Suite 110 in Clinton will open at 7:30 a.m. Tew said that will give voters time to vote before and after work.
For the weekend, the office will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29; and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov.5.
Off-site locations include Garland Town Hall, 190 S. Church St. Garland; Newton Grove Fire Station, 313 W. Weeksdale St. Newton Grove; Plainview Fire Station, 5041 Plainview Hwy., Dunn; and Roseboro Municipal Building, 101 W. Pleasant St. Roseboro.
Hours will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays for those off-site locations and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on both Saturdays, Oct. 29 and Nov. 5. One-stop voting will not be available off-site Sunday, Oct. 30.
Additional information regarding polling hours and one stop voting will be placed on the county’s website, www.sampsonnc.com. Go to Board of Elections under “Departments.”
“As soon as we get everything rolling, we’ll start running ads, because we do intend to advertise much more for this one stop, than we ever had before,” she said in regards to making the best use of time. “We want people to get out and vote early and we want them to know about (one-stop voting).”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.