Voters who went to the wrong precinct in Nash County early Tuesday were turned away without being offered provisional ballots, said Susanna Birdsong, senior policy counsel for the ACLU in North Carolina.
Birdsong, who was monitoring polls Tuesday as an election protection volunteer, said she spoke to a precinct official about the issue at Nash Agricultural Center in Nashville about an hour after the polls opened. Poll workers then started offering provisional ballots to people who were at the wrong precinct, she said.
But those voters were told that their votes may not count, Birdsong said, which deviates from the script the State Board of Elections provides in its Voting Site Station Guide.
“Some people left after they were told that,” she said. “Some said they were going to try to make it to their precinct before 7:30. When a voter leaves, you never know if they’ll have time.”
Birdsong said seven people filled out incident reports, and another 20 had the same experience in the first 6 1/2 hours of voting.
John Kearney, Nash County elections director, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Provisional ballots at NCCU
In Durham, hundreds of N.C. Central University students tried to vote at a campus precinct where they were not registered, Durham County Director of Elections Derek Bowens said.
Bowens said every student was given the opportunity to fill out a provisional ballot. He said Tuesday evening that he wouldn’t be surprised if there were 200 provisional ballots cast at NCCU. Bowens said the Durham County Board of Elections would have to research and determine whether each voter was registered or eligible to vote in Durham.
“Some of these voters were registered but not at the right precinct,” he said. They were not turned away, but instead filled out a provisional ballot.
Bowens said other voters went to early voting sites instead of their Election Day polling places, so could fill out provisional ballots there. The county has 10 days after the election to process provisional ballots.
Bowen said voters go to a place they voted previously “not understanding it was early voting they did [there], not Election Day voting,” he said.