Voting periods approach

Published 2:56 am Wednesday, September 26, 2007

By Staff
Residents may register, vote on the same day
Contributing Editor
In Beaufort, Martin and Washington counties, several elections-related deadlines and procedures are approaching.
In those counties and others across the state, Oct. 12 is the deadline to register to vote in the general elections. In those counties, one-stop voting begins Oct. 18 and concludes at 1 p.m. Nov. 3. Absentee voting by mail begins Oct. 5.
A new state law, to some degree, makes the Oct. 12 deadline moot.
This year, the state’s new procedure that allows qualified residents to register to vote and mark ballots on the same day during the early-voting period — before any election held on or after Oct. 9 — takes effect. That means residents in Beaufort, Martin and Washington counties will be able to use the new procedure for the upcoming elections. Because the new procedure is permitted only during the early-voting period, it cannot be used on Election Day, before the early-voting period or the days between the end of the early-voting period and Election Day.
One area elections official believes the new procedure will result in more people registering to vote just before Election Day.
The new law doesn’t require people who register to vote during the early-voting period to mark ballots on the day they registers.
Early voting, also known as one-stop voting, takes place at a county’s board of elections office or other designated one-stop polling places in that county. In Beaufort, Martin and Washington counties, one-stop voting may be conducted at the boards of elections. Those counties have no other one-stop polling places.
The last day to request an absentee ballot is one week before any primary or election. The request must be received by a county’s board of elections by 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before the primary or election. Absentee ballots must be returned to a county’s board of elections by 5 p.m. on the day before a primary or election. Absentee ballots must be delivered by mail, commercial courier service or in person.
Boards of elections canvass ballots seven days after a primary or election.
In Washington County, Roper voters follow a different election schedule than voters in Plymouth or Creswell.
Election Day in Roper is Oct. 9. A runoff election, if needed, would be held Nov. 6.
To vote in the Oct. 9 election, residents must have been registered to vote by Sept. 14. Absentee voting by mail, which began Sept. 7, concludes at 1 p.m. Oct. 6.
One-stop, no-excuse voting began Sept. 20 and ends at 1 p.m. the last Saturday (Oct. 6) before the election.
There are no municipal elections in Hyde County this year.
Another change to North Carolina’s voting laws removes the state’s former “no match, no vote” policy that prevented thousands of North Carolina voters from successfully registering to vote, according to Joyce McCloy, founder of the N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting. North Carolina is the latest state to remove this barrier, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
The new law gives voters a second chance to correct errors on voter-registration forms that may have kept them from casting valid votes. Under the former policy, voter-registration forms from citizens could be rejected if even a single letter of their personal information on their registration cards did not match their personal information in Social Security or state motor vehicle databases.
Under the new law, boards of elections in North Carolina will attempt to notify voters when their registration forms have errors or omissions so voters may correct their forms so they can mark a regular ballot instead of a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are given to voters when there are questions regarding their eligibility to vote. Provisional ballots are counted after Election Day and contingent upon verification of voters’ eligibility to vote.