Moore County is preparing for what will be one of the most challenging election years yet.
Early voting for the March 3 primaries begins Thursday at the Moore County Agricultural Center on Pinehurst Avenue in Carthage and the Pinehurst Fire Department on Magnolia Road, which was also used during the 2016 elections. The Pinehurst site will include one Sunday afternoon of voting.
Elections Director Glenda Clendenin said the early voting period will still be 17 days, but the General Assembly increased the number of hours sites must be open. She told county commissioners during their winter work session last month that the increased hours have posed challenges in scheduling workers to staff the two sites and hold down overtime since many of them will also work the polls on March 3.
“Early voting will be very different this year,” she said.
The main site at the Agricultural Center in Carthage will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, as well as 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29, the final day of early voting.
The Pinehurst Fire Department will operate from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the two Saturdays in the period, as well as 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23.
Another big challenge will be handling 15 different ballot styles.
“It is going to be a nightmare,” Clendenin said.
There are five presidential preference primaries. Moore County is split between two congressional districts — the 8th and 9th — for this election and two state House districts: 52 and 78.
All that adds up to 15 ballots: four Republican, three Democrat and two each for the Constitution, Green and Libertarian parties, and two for non-partisan only. One nonpartisan ballot includes two school board primaries that every voter will get and another one for an ABC referendum for voters living in the Sheffield township.
Clendenin said voters will not be required to show a photo ID for this election. A federal judge issued an order Dec. 31 blocking implementation of the state’s new constitutional requirement.
She said the elections office has received a number of calls from voters about this, many questioning why IDs are not being required.
“These precinct workers are your neighbors, so please be understanding,” Clendenin said. “They take an oath to follow the law. We are just following the law.”
Clendenin told commissioners that the county has moved the Seven Lakes voting place from the fire department to the gym at Seven Lakes Baptist Church at 1015 Seven Lakes Drive, which she said will be “safer to get in and out of.” She said the elections board had to send letters to every voter notifying them of the change.
Clendenin said the elections board is training 300 workers who will staff the 25 polling places on Election Day, March 3, which will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. About 52 workers will help staff the early voting sites.
“We are busy right now,” Clendenin said. “There are a lot of challenges facing the Board of Elections and our staff, but we are working hard to be prepared.”
Glendenin told commissioners that voters are concerned about the safety and integrity of the elections. She said the county is sticking with its present system of using paper ballots that are fed into machines by the voter. The machines tabulate the results after the polls close. She said the county has not experienced any significant problems with them previously.
She said the elections board decided not to look into purchasing new equipment for this election and instead will “wait and see what other counties use and what works” before making any decisions.
Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org