Johnston election leaders say confusion at one Clayton precinct led the state to consider extending voting in the county.
The Church at Clayton Crossings on U.S. 70 Business is among the early-voting sites that Johnston voters use each year. On Election Day, it also houses West Clayton 2 precinct.
As the church has become a popular early-voting site, occasionally voters who wait until Election Day to cast their ballots will mistakenly go there instead of their assigned precinct.
In past years when that happened, precinct officials would allow a voter to cast a provisional ballot that would likely be counted, said Leigh Anne Price, director of the Johnston County Board of Elections. However, a new ban on out-of-precinct voting went into effect this election, along with other voting changes enacted by the General Assembly in 2013. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling upholding the ban.
“When they wait in the line and get to the check-in, they finally realize they are not in the correct precinct,” Price said. “In their mind, they think that’s where they vote because they usually always vote early.”
On Tuesday, several out-of-precinct voters who could not cast a provisional ballot complained to the State Board of Elections. The board considered extending voting in Johnston but ultimately decided against doing so. The polls closed at 7:30 p.m. as usual.
Also, Price said, several voters who used to vote at The Church at Clayton Crossings were confused about their new polling place.
Earlier this year, the county elections board changed the site of South Clayton Precinct from The Church at Clayton Crossings to Mount Calvary Baptist Church. The board notified each affected voter, but some still showed up at the wrong church, Price said.
The Johnston County Board of Elections plans to hold an after-action review, where officials will meet with chief judges to get feedback and suggestions on how to improve the process.
On Tuesday, 50,117 of 111,733 eligible Johnston voters cast ballots. That’s slightly lower than the county turnout of 47 percent in the last mid-term election in 2010.