Voters who want to cast their ballots early could find long lines awaiting them when early voting sites open later this week.
Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties will begin offering "one-stop no excuse absentee voting" for the primary election May 6, beginning Thursday.
A complete list of counties offering early voting sites can be viewed at www.sboe.state.nc.us/content.aspx?id=17.
In addition to voting early, residents who missed the deadline for voter registration can register at the "one-stop" sites, then vote, on the same day. To register, residents must provide identification with their name and current address. A list of documents that are accepted as identification may be found at www.sboe.state.nc.us/content.aspx?ID=32.
"There is every possibility that this is not going to be like going through the drive-through at your favorite fast-food restaurant," said Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the State Board of Elections. "I think that if the turnout at the one-stop voting sites are as great as we think it may be, then all of us need to be prepared to possibly wait."
Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan election reform organization, worries that bottlenecks could become so frustrating that some people will leave without voting.
"It's like preparing for a hurricane and a weeklong rock concert at the same time," said Hall. He is urging state and local officials to take measures to avoid backups at the one-stop voting sites and confusion among voters. He proposes adding extra personnel at early voting sites, extending site hours and expanding the number of days sites are open.
Wake County has already increased its number of early voting sites, Hall said.
One-stop voting will end May 3.
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