LUMBERTON — Local elections officials on Tuesday received a state-approved plan for early voting in Robeson County for the November General Election..
Staff and officials at the Robeson County Board of Elections had been awaiting since Friday for a breakdown of what hours six polling sites should be open during the 17-day voting period. Robeson County was among 33 counties that submitted two early voting plans to the state Board of Elections for approval, which the state Board of Elections sorted through on Thursday during an 11-hour meeting.
Early voting for the General Election will begin statewide on Oct. 20. Voters can already submit absentee ballots by mail.
The following are the times when Robeson voters can cast early ballots at the Robeson County Board of Elections, located at 800 N. Walnut St.: Oct. 20 and Oct. 21 from 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. each day; Oct. 24 through Oct. 26 from 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. each day; Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 from 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. each day; Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Oct. 30 from 1 to 5 p.m.; Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day; Nov. 2 from 8:15 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.; Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day; and Nov. 5 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The following are the times when Robeson voters can cast early ballots at Fairmont Senior Center, 421 S. Main St; Maxton Public Library, 210 N. Florence St.; Pembroke Public Library, 413 S. Blaine St.; Red Springs Community Center, 122 Cross St.; and St. Pauls Town Hall, 210 W. Blue St.: Oct. 29 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day; and Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.
The plan represents a slight shift in hours from one submitted to the state by Robeson Elections Board Chairman Steve Stone and board member Tiffany Peguise-Powers. A second plan, submitted by board member Daniel Cummings, included fewer polling sites.
In the plan submitted by Stone and Peguise-Powers, more voting hours were included at the beginning of the 17-day period. Stone said that was done so elections staff would have “more time to verify voters” before Election Day.
State board members, looking at the patterns of Robeson County voters, decided to shift some of those hours to the end of the early voting period in giving their approval. The adjustment left local elections officials in a holding pattern as they waited to hear what specific changes the state had made. The Robeson County Board of Elections did not send a representative to last week’s hearing in Raleigh.
Overall, the plan reduces early voting hours from 348 in the 2012 election to 323 hours.
G.L. Pridgen, director of the Robeson County Board of Elections, said the schedule will be challenging; the county, to his knowledge, hasn’t had this many polling sites open before at once.
In anticipation of the state board’s determination, the local board began looking for additional poll workers last week. Pridgen said anyone interested in helping out should call the Robeson County Board of Elections at 910-671-3080 for an application. Applicants must have a drivers’ license, be available for some lengthy shifts and “be a people person,” he said.
“It’s a challenging job but it’s rewarding,” he said. “Some of the people have been doing it for years.”
County boards statewide were forced to come up with new early voting schedules after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out several portions of a 2013 North Carolina election law, including provisions requiring voters to present a photo ID at the polls and limiting early voting to 10 days.
Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.