Elections

Early voting site left unlocked in Granville County

Voters are offered a sticker as they cast their ballots as hundreds came out on the first day of early voting at the Hope Mills Recreation Center in Hope Mills, NC on Oct. 20, 2016. An early voting site in Granville County was left unlocked on Saturday, and election materials and completed ballots weren’t properly secured.
Voters are offered a sticker as they cast their ballots as hundreds came out on the first day of early voting at the Hope Mills Recreation Center in Hope Mills, NC on Oct. 20, 2016. An early voting site in Granville County was left unlocked on Saturday, and election materials and completed ballots weren’t properly secured. cseward@newsobserver.com

When a voter mistakenly went to an early voting site in Wilton on Saturday, the doors were unlocked and voting booths, ballots and equipment were sitting out – with no election workers in sight.

The early voting site at Tar River Elementary School in the southern Granville County crossroads community wasn’t open Saturday. But poll workers forgot to lock the building when the site closed on Friday.

The voter – who was using an inaccurate early voting schedule found online – called the Granville County Board of Elections to report the unsecured polling site.

Elections director Tonya Burnette said election officials and representatives from both political parties met at the site Sunday to double-check completed ballots and make sure no one had tampered with equipment or ballots. They found no evidence of any problems.

“It just appears to be an unfortunate incident where the door was not locked,” Burnette said.

She said the worker who was in charge of the Wilton site on Friday has been replaced. Poll workers have been reminded to “make sure that everything is secured at that site, and make sure that all the doors are locked before they leave,” she added.

A spokesman for the State Board of Elections said the agency has been made aware of the problem.

The N.C. Republican Party said Monday that the incident is troubling and suggested that a court-ordered extension of the early voting period might have been a factor.

“Of course these things are a concern and have to be addressed,” NC GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse said. “When we stretch early in-person voting over 17 days, there are simply more opportunities for errors.”

When federal appellate judges struck down the Republican-sponsored 2013 voter ID law, they also mandated a 17-day early voting period instead of the 10-day period required by the 2013 law.

The earlier start for early voting has proven popular, with long lines at many locations so far. According to the State Board of Elections, about 409,000 people voted statewide during the first four days of early voting.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter

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