Wake elections board OKs Sunday voting

cjarvis@newsobserver.comDecember 10, 2013 

— Wake County voters will be able to continue casting early ballots on a Sunday leading up to November’s general election.

But there won’t be Sunday voting in the May 2014 primary, and a symbolically significant community center in Southeast Raleigh will not be among the primary early-voting sites.

Those were the decisions the Wake County Board of Elections wrestled with Tuesday as it adapted to the new state law that cuts a week off the early voting period while at the same time requiring counties to stay open for the same number of hours.

Wake County may be the first board in the state to try to figure out how to accommodate the controversial new elections law, which the legislature approved earlier this year and Gov. Pat McCrory signed in August, according to Wake Elections Director Cherie Poucher.

Board Chairman David Robinson, a Republican, said he didn’t like the idea of Sunday voting, but he acknowledged that it appeared to be gaining in popularity in Wake County. He said the question was whether Wake should explore that avenue or fall in line with most of the rest of the state in prohibiting Sunday voting.

Robinson said there didn’t appear to be a groundswell of opposition to it, so he cast his vote with Mark Ezzell, the Democrat on the board. Brian Ratledge voted against it.

The board unanimously agreed on a schedule allowing eight days of voting over a 10-day period in the May primary, not including Sundays. Polls will remain open at four sites from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, with additional hours on Saturdays.

The four early-voting locations, approved 3-0, are the Board of Elections office in downtown Raleigh, the Herbert C. Young Community Center in Cary, the W.E. Hunt Recreation Center in Holly Springs, the Knightdale Recreation Center and the Lake Lynn Community Center in North Raleigh.

Ezzell and several speakers pushed for the Chavis Community Center in Southeast Raleigh. President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign held a huge early-voting rally there in 2012 with Alicia Keys, appealing to young and black voters. But Ezzell said it was more important that Chavis be an early-voting site in the general election than in the primaries.

The Chavis center had the second-lowest turnout in the 2010 primary early voting.

Jarvis: 919-829-4576; Twitter: @CraigJ_NandO

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