Forsyth County Board of Elections tackles voting law changes

Forsyth County Board of Elections tackles voting law changes
May 28
00:00 2015

In photo above: Forsyth County Board of Elections Director Steve Hines (Photo by Todd Luck)

Voter ID requirements and pre-registration elimination among topics discussed

Concerns about voter IDs, the end of teen pre-registration and plans for 2015 elections were discussed at the Board of Elections regular meeting on Thursday, May 21, at the Forsyth County Government Center.

During the public comment session, Phyllis Walker, a volunteer with Democracy North Carolina, the voting rights coalition, spoke. She regularly registers people to vote and informs them of the state’s new requirement for a government-issued photo ID to vote in 2016. She said she recently went to a food pantry at St. Paul United Methodist Church to discuss the new requirements with their clients and found many with damaged or deteriorated IDs. She showed photocopies of drivers licenses that were kept together with tape, one of which the picture was so deteriorated it was barely recognizable.

“It would be a shame on Forsyth County and this board of election for someone to show up and someone not speak to that,” she said. “And they get in line and wait and have someone say ‘I can’t recognize who you are.’”

She was concerned because it costs money that many of them wouldn’t have to replace their licenses. BOE Director Steve Hines said that DMV offers free IDs for voting purposes, but that’s for those who don’t have ID at all. Hines said they could reach out to the North Carolina Board of Elections for clarification on the issue.

Forsyth BOE Chair Ken Raymond said that he hoped outreach efforts by the state BOE and other groups would let voters get the proper identification they need for 2016.

Hines said the state BOE is doing a “pretty good job” educating voters on the voter ID requirement but he said his office will also be doing outreach by speaking to various local groups.

Hines himself will be speaking at meetings of Forsyth County Senior Democrats and to a conservative group in June. He encouraged groups to contact the BOE to schedule a speaking engagement.

“I think we can take care of our own in Forsyth County and we’re going to try to do that,” he said.

Raymond and BOE member Fleming El-Amin praised Hines for his initiative.

Also discussed was a change that did away with 16- and 17-year-olds ability to pre-register to vote, allowing them to vote when they turn 18. He called it “an election director’s nightmare.”

Hines said he had 140 local teens that had to be sent a state form letter rejecting their pre-registration.

“In my personal opinion, that’s pitiful,” he said. “It’s hard enough to get young folks to register, and when you send them a letter that says ‘Thanks for trying, but no thanks,’ it sets a bad tone for them and unfortunately we put that bad taste in their mouth.”

The letter states they won’t be 18 before the next election, which is untrue for some. Hines said there were even a couple that will be 18 in late October, which is before the election but after registration ends, meaning they’ll have no chance to vote this year.

The board unanimously approved letting Hines draft and send the teens another letter explaining the change in the law and encouraging them to register.

The board made tentative plans for 2015 municipal elections in Bethania, Clemmons, Kernersville, Lewisville, Rural Hall, Tobaccoville and Walkertown. The board approved a recommendation by staff to open 19 precincts for this year’s Nov. 3 election, with the ability to change those plans if a statewide bond referendum is on the ballot. If a statewide bond is on the ballot, all 101 precincts would need to be opened, said Hines. By state law, voters will be informed of precinct openings and changes at least 45 days before the election.

The board also discussed moving the polling location in Precinct 302, which was located in Hanes/Lowrance Middle School. The school was closed this year because of concerns of environmental contamination. The board discussed several options, including moving it to the North Side Shopping Center and to the N.C. Cooperative Extension office, just outside the precinct. El-Amin said he would check into St. Phillips Moravian Church as a potential site as well.

Hines also talked about the County’s reaction to the BOE’s 2015/2016 budget. He said the County Manager was recommending the entire budget to the County Commissioners, except equipment, which would be dealt with as “pay as you go.” Hines said everything was still covered; the funds were just allocated in a different way for equipment because of uncertainty of what would be certified for use by the state BOE.

The state BOE will hold a hearing on voter ID procedures on Tuesday, June 9 from 5 to 7 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Forsyth County Government Center. The next Forsyth BOE meeting will be June 11th at 4 p.m. on the second floor of the Government Center. The BOE can be contacted at 336-703-2800.

About Author

Todd Luck

Todd Luck

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors