Board of Elections prepares for primaries

Board of Elections prepares for primaries
December 10
00:00 2015
Eligible voters in N.C. have until Feb. 19 to register
By Todd Luck
For the Chronicle

Candidates are filing and voter registration is going on for the March 15, 2016 primary for next year’s general election.

The stakes are high for next year’s election as candidates for president, U.S. congress, N.C. General Assembly, county commissioners, the mayor and all city council seats are on the ballot.

So far it’s been mostly incumbents who have filed. As of press time, every member of the City Council has now filed for re-election in 2016 except Molly Leight, who said she will not run for another term, and Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke, who said she does plan to run for her 11th term representing the Northeast Ward.

Interim Forsyth Board of Elections (BOE) Director Lamar Joyner said he’s expecting a large turnout.

“We’re going to do our best to get all our election officials prepared for the election, get ourselves prepared, get all the polling locations secured and ready to go,” he said.

By state law, voters must register to vote 25 days before the election they want to vote in, which makes the registration deadline for the primaries Feb. 19.  Candidate filing is open until Dec. 21.

Joyner said Forsyth BOE is on schedule as far as getting poll workers for the precincts. Early voting plans haven’t yet been voted on by the Forsyth BOE, but it’s expected to be discussed during its next meeting on Dec. 17. Early voting plans must be submitted to the State Board of Elections by Jan. 15.

The N.C. NAACP is doing a statewide voter registration drive until Feb. 19.

The N.C. NAACP is also one of several groups that is legally challenging changes in voting laws, such as ending out-of-precinct voting and shorter early voting periods, arguing that they create a burden for voters, especially minorities. The case was heard last year in federal court, but has yet to be ruled on. A separate part of that case involving the state’s new voter ID requirement had a hearing in October and has a tentative court date of January. Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to stop the ID requirement from going into effect for the 2016 election.

Both political parties are actively trying to get people registered locally. Forsyth Democratic Party Chair Eric Ellison said that Democrats are using a computerized system to find people who are eligible to vote but aren’t registered.  He said he’s also trying to sure make everyone knows about the voter ID requirement.

“It’s not just registering people to vote. There’s definitely an added component of education,” said Ellison.

Forsyth County Republican Party is also continuously registering people to vote, with drives at churches and a movement to register high school seniors who’ve turned 18. Party Chair Mark Baker,  said he’s also making sure everyone knows about voter ID requirements, which he supports as a way to protect against voter fraud, which he says is a serious issue, regardless of how rare it is. He believes voters will adapt to the new requirement.

“I think in the long run it’s going to be a good thing,” he said about the new ID requirement.

While there’ll be no shortage of registration drives in the coming months, eligible voters can easily register on their own. They can print the registration form off the BOE website, They  can also pick up registration forms at libraries and county offices.  Joyner said many voter registrations come from the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, which lets people register to vote when they renew their driver’s license.

The requirements for registration are: U.S. citizenship, being at least 18 years old by the next general election, having resided in the county at least 30 days by election day. Also, a person must not be currently serving a felony sentence. Those previously convicted of a felony who have fully served their sentences, including probation or parole, are eligible with no special document required.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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