Primary voting hours change in Warren County

Mar. 03, 2014 @ 04:40 PM

One Tri-County board of election got permission to change early voting hours and another is seeking the same.

Warren County was among nearly one-third of the state’s counties who sought and received the go-ahead from the State Board of Elections to reduce early-voting hours heading into the May 6 primary below what last year’s elections overhaul law demands.

Granville County also wants to change early voting hours, but the State Board of Elections asked for more information in its plan, Granville County Board of Elections Director Tonya Burnette said.

The law decreased the number of early-voting days leading up to an election by seven — from 17 days to 10 — with a caveat: Counties had to offer as many voting hours as they had in the 2010 primary. Boards of election also had to unanimously agree to the change.

In Warren County, Board of Elections Director Deborah Formyduval said the county plans to decrease voting sites from two to one but increase voting hours to 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays. In 2010, the main site at the board’s office was open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. while the secondary site — Vaughan Elementary School — was open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

But the use of that primary school caused security concerns for board of elections and school staff.

In 2012’s presidential election, Formyduval said Warren experienced the second-highest voter turnout in the state as far as the percentage of voters participating. Even so, most voters were in and out in eight to 10 minutes.

Increasing the hours could actually help make voting more convenient, she said.

“We feel like by extending the hours to non-traditional hours, 7:30 a.m., if somebody has to get to work at 8 a.m. they have time to vote,” Formyduval said. Residents could also vote after work.

In the letter to the State Board of Elections, Warren Chairman Merwin Dieckmann said the board also plans to open the Saturday before the primary.

The counties that requested the exemption were Alleghany, Bladen, Brunswick, Buncombe, Caldwell, Camden, Cherokee, Chowan, Clay, Craven, Currituck, Duplin, Graham, Granville, Greene, Henderson, Martin, McDowell, Mitchell, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Sampson, Stokes, Surry, Tyrrell, Warren, Washington, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey.

Contact the writer at vshortley@hendersondispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at @herding_stets.