Orange County Prepares for Elections Without Voter ID Law Requirements

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down North Carolina’s voter ID laws last month. This change is causing local Boards of Elections to revamp their systems – including Orange County.

ID requirements are now being replaced with preregistration for teenagers, a week of early voting, same-day registration and out-of-precinct provisional voting.  All of these changes will be part of the general election this November. And with all these changes, Tracy Reams has her own way of describing the looming elections.

“It seems like it’s been a moving target up until now.”

Reams is the director of Orange County Board of Elections. She said waiting for the Court of Appeals’ decision on voter ID laws kept her, and the rest of her committee, guessing.

“Well we never really know what we’re going to be doing from one day to the next so to speak,” Reams said.

Now that the 2013 Voter ID law has been overturned, Reams said her committee is working quickly to educate the public and the voting officials on the new guidelines.

“What we’re doing now is going in with our precinct supplies and we’re taking out anything that relates to requiring a photo ID,” Reams said. “We’re going to be working on updating our manuals and making sure to train our precinct officials that they no longer have to ask for a photo ID.”

Reams said repealing the Voter ID law will not only give people more times to vote, but also help with efficiency at the booths.

“Just the fact that the voter doesn’t have to present that voter ID will take a step out of the process out for our precinct officials. So we’re hoping that due to the elimination of that one step, we’ll be able to process our voters more efficiently.”

Reams suspects these upcoming elections will draw large numbers to the voting booths, and asked that anyone interested in the voting process volunteer at the polls.

“We’re always looking for anybody that’s willing to work on Election Day. With this election coming up, we’re going to be prepared to have a large turn out. So if there’s anybody out there that wants to work, please give us a call and we can find you a place to work.”

Early voting will start seven days earlier than usual, this year beginning on October 20. With this change, Reams said her committee will hold an open meeting on Tuesday, August 16 to discuss an early voting plan.

“Of course there will be an opportunity for public input prior to the discussion,” Reams said.

The early voting plan will be submitted on August 19. For anyone planning to vote on Election Day, the registration deadline is Friday, October the 14.

Possible Run-Off Election Dates, If Necessary

We could be headed for a run-off in at least one highly contested local election. Tracy Reams, Director of the Orange County Board of Elections, breaks down the possible scenarios if the election results are narrow following the May 6 primary.

Under the current state statute, a run-off, or a second primary, is not required if a candidate gets a “substantial” plurality–which Reams says is defined as 40 percent plus one vote.

“To eliminate the possibility of a run-off, a candidate would need to get 40 percent plus one. If a candidate does not reach that then the second place candidate would then have the right to ask for a run-off in writing,” Reams says.

The Democratic primary race for Orange County Sheriff is looking to be one of the closest contests with six candidates vying for the position.

If just a local election requires a run-off, Reams says it will be held on June 24, seven weeks after the first primary per state law.

If the congressional senate contest requires a run-off, all second primaries will be held on July 15, ten weeks after the first primary.

“There is not a possibility of having a June primary and then a July primary. It would all be held in one second primary.”

The North Carolina Republican primary in the race for the United States Senate appeared to be headed for a run-off, but a recent poll revealed that state House Speaker Thom Tillis has managed to widen his lead.

Reams says that if a second primary is required, there is one important rule unaffiliated voters should keep in mind.

“If an unaffiliated voter votes in the first primary, they would be required to vote the same party in the second primary.”

The last run-off election held in Orange County was on July 17, 2012, for several state offices: the Democratic race for Commissioner of Labor and the Republican race for Lieutenant Governor, Commissioner of Insurance, Secretary of State, and Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Click here to view the full candidate list for the May 6 primary.

Early Voting In Orange County Kicks Off Thursday

CHAPEL HILL – Early voting for the Nov. 5 municipal and Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board elections kicks off on Thursday.

Though changes are coming soon to election laws in North Carolina, Tracy Reams, Director of the Orange County Board of Elections, says that the policies will be the same for this election season.

“Most of the changes are coming into play on January 1 of 2014,” Reams says. “One of the things is that they will be eliminating same-day registration.”

Reams explains that anyone who shows up for early-voting this year can participate in same-day registration. The early voting period lasts until Saturday, Nov. 2.

“Additionally, we do have a very low turnout in the municipal elections, and we are hoping with these sites, and hours we hoping folks will utilize these early voting sites,” she says.

The four early-voting sites in Orange County are:

– The Board of Elections Office at 208 S. Cameron St., Hillsborough

– Carrboro Town Hall at 301 West Main St., Carrboro

– Rams Head Dining Hall at 320 Ridge Road, Chapel Hill

– Seymour Senior Center at 2551 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill


All sites will be open Monday through Friday. Rams Head Dining Hall and Carrboro Town Hall will be open during the hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Board of Elections will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Janice Tyler, Director of the Department of Aging, says that the Seymour Center will be open on weekdays, noon to 6 p.m.

“One of the best things about being an early voting site is that we get community folks into the Center that might otherwise never get to come in, so we get to share with them about things that happen at the Center and what the Department of Aging does,” Tyler says.

All four early voting sites will be and all will be open on November 2, from 9 a.m. till 1 p.m.

Click here for more information on the 2013 Election.