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Long lines prompt state to ask counties to consider extending early voting

With persistent long lines, state election officials are asking counties to consider extending the early voting times and days.

"The wait time at some sites is as long as 2 hours. County Boards should take immediate steps to alleviate these delays and facilitate a more efficient voting process for North Carolina voters," wrote Gary Bartlett, the state's elections chief, in a memorandum sent Monday to all 100 county boards of elections.

The memo recommends four options: extending the poll hours and days; moving voting equipment and staff to busy locations; help voters move more quickly; and look for administrative changes to speed the process.

Bartlett asked all counties to report their decision to him as soon as possible.


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early voting ideas

in '08 94 of the 100 counties had scheduled to close the last Saturday at 1 pm, but they all extended the hours the last day til 5 pm (the statutory end of the early voting period). There are about 10% less sites on weekdays so far relative to 2008, but by this Thursday the total number was already scheduled to be at '08 levels (Wake is going from 8 to 16 sites tomorrow). There is about 50% more Saturday and Sunday voting sites scheduled this year than in '08 so that will help some.  About 40 smaller counties have just one site, and most of those close at 5 on weekdays -- I suppose it would be possible to stay open later but many of those counties have little staff. More counties could have sites this Saturday or have longer Saturday hours than previously scheduled, or stay open later. More Sundays is controversial, though 19 counties will vote this Sunday. It's $$$ and finding people to work. Extensive training is required because the system needs safeguards and workers who understand the policies.

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