North Raleigh News

Wake Forest leaders decide not to offer early voting this year

The town will not offer early voting during this year’s municipal elections, after elected leaders said the effort would be too expensive for a race that likely won’t draw many voters.

The Wake Forest Board of Commissioners had considered offering early voting leading up to the November election, which will feature town races. But municipal elections often have low voter turnout, and Mayor Vivian Jones said the town shouldn’t spend the money.

“I’d think for local elections, early voting isn’t necessary,” Jones said at a Board of Commissioners meeting Jan. 20.

Wake Forest has never offered early voting for municipal elections, according to the Wake County Board of Elections.

Although the county board administers elections, towns reimburse the agency for early voting, said Gary Sims, deputy director of the Wake County Board of Elections.

The county board estimates it would cost towns like Wake Forest $2,130 to set up early voting. There would be an additional fee of about $115 an hour to pay staff salaries.

Jones said the town would probably have to offer early voting for at least three days, pushing the cost well above $3,000.

The Board of Elections office in downtown Raleigh offers early voting for municipal elections, but the agency doesn’t like to dictate early-voting locations in towns.

“We don't want to arbitrarily start picking sites and sending bills,” Sims said. He said it’s best for municipalities to look at local voter turnout and then make a decision.

During the 2013 municipal election, 4,512 Wake Forest residents cast votes in the Board of Commissioners race.

Since 2011, only Garner and Cary in Wake County have offered early-voting options during municipal elections.

This year, three Wake Forest commissioner seats are up for grabs: those belonging to Zachary Donahue, Greg Harrington and Anne Reeve. Candidates can file to run in municipal elections from July 6 to July 17.

The Wake County Board of Elections plans to host early voting for November elections from Oct. 22- Oct. 31 this year at its downtown Raleigh location.