With persistent long lines, state election officials are asking counties to consider extending early-voting times and days.
“The wait time at some sites is as long as two hours. County election boards should take immediate steps to alleviate these delays and facilitate a more efficient voting process for North Carolina voters,” wrote Gary Bartlett, the state’s elections chief, in a memorandum sent Monday to all 100 county boards of elections.
The memo recommends four options: extending early-voting poll hours and days; moving voting equipment and staff to busy locations; help voters move more quickly; and look for administrative changes to speed the process.
Bartlett asked all counties to report their decision to him as soon as possible.
Obama campaign: N.C. in play
President Barack Obama’s senior campaign advisers said North Carolina was still very much in play, and that the president’s large ground operation was paying dividends.
In a national press call, Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, and David Axelrod, a senior strategist, both dismissed talk that North Carolina was no longer within reach for the Democrats.
“We have a huge operation on the ground,” Messina said. “The vice president and the first lady have been there recently. We continue to feel that North Carolina is a neck-and-neck race. That is a place where we feel very good about what we have on the ground.”
He said voter registration efforts, particularly among young voters and in the African-American community, were exceeding levels seen in early voting in 2008 and the campaign’s expectations. He said that effort might surprise people on Election Day.
Messina said the Romney campaign had already missed their goal.
“The Romney campaign said they were already going to have North Carolina in the bag by now,” Messina said. “And they don’t. You saw a poll the other day showing that race tied. Voter registration vastly favors the president. The map continues to look better and better for us in an important way.’’
Axelrod echoed Messina’s comment.
“I think there is bit of mythology being spun by the other side about some of these states, and North Carolina is one of them – North Carolina, Florida and Virginia,” Axelrod said. “Anybody who thinks one of those states is in the bag is half in the bag themselves. We have added millions of dollars to television spending in each of these states in the last couple of weeks. We are doubling down. We are not pulling back at all.”
Jackson coming to Triangle
The Rev. Jesse Jackson will visit UNC-Chapel Hill on Friday to discuss the importance of voting in the election.
Jackson will meet with students, faculty and the community in the Genome Science Building on campus. Joining him will be members of the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus.
Jackson, a civil rights leader and Baptist minister, is a two-time presidential candidate. The event is being sponsored by the UNC Black Student Movement, the Carolina Men Advocating for Empowerment and Success, Carolina Hispanic Association, Campus Y, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and several other student organizations.
Earlier in the day, Jackson will address a student rally at the Miller-Morgan Building at the N.C. Central University campus in Durham and meet with members of the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus.
Staff writers John Frank and Rob Christensen
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