Thanks to a court ruling, voters wishing to cast their ballots before the Nov. 8 presidential election now have seven extra days to make a choice.
Originally, one-stop voting was scheduled to begin Thursday, Oct. 27, and continue through Saturday, Nov. 5. But now it begins Thursday, Oct. 20. The changed followed the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals striking down a decision to have only 10 days of early voting along with a requirement to have voter identification. The three-judge panel, based out of Virginia, believes the measures violated the rights of black voters.
Ashley Pate Tew, director of the Sampson County Board of Elections (BOE), reported that the headquarters will open earlier for the seven additional days. The office is located at 120 County Complex Road, Building F, Suite 110. The extra days of early voting will begin Thursday, Oct. 20, through Friday, Oct. 21, and resume Monday, Oct. 24, through Wednesday, Oct. 26. Hours are set from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Previously, the Sampson County Board of Elections unanimously approved a 10-day early voting schedule to accommodate residents who want to go on Saturday. For the remaining days of early voting, the BOE will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, and Friday, Oct. 28; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29; 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30; 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, through Friday, Nov. 4; 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5.
“We’ll be open during normal business hours and it gives people more time to come in after work,” Tew said.
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.
From Thursday, Oct. 27, through Saturday, Nov. 5, the off-site hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays 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.
State law require that all sites be open on the last day of voting on Saturday, Nov. 5. The changes give residents three extra hours to vote.
Tew is not expecting any major changes behind the voter ID issue. Tew added that voters must provide their name, address and political affiliation.
“It shouldn’t slow anybody down,” Tew said. “If anything, it may speed it up just a little.”
Some voters may have to show identification if proper forms were not presented during registration.
“That’s a very few number of voters,” Tew said. “You’re talking about 5 percent, if that.”
One-stop voting can be done at any of the off-sites that are open, but on Election Day, voters must cast ballots at their designated polling locations.
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.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.