Early voting is a popular time to cast ballots due to the options it gives citizens. The period runs 17 days, voters are also not required to vote in their specific precinct and same-day registration is offered.
But after the most recent session of North Carolina’s General Assembly, there are changes coming regarding early voting sites. Before, the Orange County Board of Elections assigned hours to sites based on elements like traffic and location. Now, there’s a law that eliminates that variability across the state.
Orange County Elections director Rachel Raper closely followed all the recent changes ahead of this fall’s elections.
“It’s uniform hours, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” she said. “If one site is open, they all have to be open during that time and during those hours.”
The upcoming early voting period nearly saw another big change. Republicans in the state General Assembly passed legislation during the short session to move early voting back one day. This law eliminated the popular final day of the voting period: the Saturday before Election Day. Lawmakers passed a turnaround measure late in the session, however, and restored the Saturday voting time after feedback from constituents.
The Orange County Board of Elections is still working to incorporate the new changes. They’re prepping for election season by studying sites, assigning shifts and training workers on their roles come November. The change in hours means the Board of Elections must hire more people to work for longer hours during the week of early voting.
But Raper said she’s not too worried about finding staff to help out.
“One of my favorite things about Orange County is the number of people who are willing to work for us during one-stop voting,” said Raper. “It’s not a volunteer position; these people are paid and trained. We just have a great group of workers to pull from, and that’s one of the things that I think sets Orange County apart.”
Raper said she thinks this change should make election week easier for her department in some ways, since there will be less time negotiations and variance between sites. Additional changes may be on the way, though, with a voter ID constitutional amendment on the ballot in the fall. Raper said because of laws like this, the county board must stay updated and prepared.
“We’re used to there being litigation issues,” she said. “Last-minute law changes have just been par for the course of the last several years. Our office is ready to implement what we have to implement and do it with a smile.”
The North Carolina Board of Elections offered further guidance to the county boards last Friday. The Orange County Board of Elections will be holding a meeting at the Whitted Building in Hillsborough at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 10.