By Connie Leinbach and Peter Vankevich
Persons wishing to vote in the March 15 primary may think the deadline for registration has passed, but that’s apparently not the case.
The law–at least through this primary–is that same-day registration is allowed during the early voting period from March 3 to March 12, according to Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause, a nonprofit organization based in Raleigh dedicated to strengthening democracy and making government more open, honest and accountable.
But a potential voter wouldn’t know that looking at the website of the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
In the Voter Registration FAQ, it states: “What is the voter registration deadline?”
And the answer says the voter registration deadline is 25 days prior to an election. This year, that was Feb. 19.
However, buried in the One Stop Voting information on another page, one can read the following:
“One-stop absentee voting (commonly known as “early voting”) allows any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot in person on select days prior to Election Day. One-stop voting begins on the second Thursday prior to Election Day and ends on the last Saturday before the election at 1:00 p.m. The location for One-stop Voting is either in the County Board of Elections office, or an alternative site, if the County Board office is not equipped to handle in-person voting. County Boards of Elections may also designate additional one-stop sites in various other parts of the county.
“Voters may change their name or address at a one-stop voting site. Persons who are not registered in a county may register to vote during early voting. This process is called “Same-Day Registration” and is currently permitted due to a preliminary injunction granted under a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, but this option remains the subject of ongoing litigation in federal court.”
The General Assembly tried to eliminate the same-day registration option, but a preliminary injunction granted under a decision by a federal appeals court has blocked that law from taking effect while it remains the subject of ongoing litigation.
“If you missed the Feb. 19 voter registration deadline, beginning today (March 3) you can register for the first time and vote on Ocracoke,” Phillips said. “You need to live in that location for 30 days prior, or if the 30 days (of when a person will have lived in a location) ends March 15, you can still register.”
Phillips recommended that anyone wishing to register should present a utility bill or something that shows they’re actually living on Ocracoke.
On Ocracoke, one-stop voting will be today and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday) from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department building on Irvin Garrish Highway.
Voters will be required to show photo identification to cast a ballot, with some exceptions. Click here for information about what ID is acceptable.
According to an article in the OBX Voice, more than 360 early voting sites across the state will host 25,300 hours of voting during the 10-day early voting period.
Early voting, which has gained in popularity, accounted for more than 23 percent of all votes cast in the 2012 primary and a majority in the 2012 general election.
Adding more confusion to this year’s primary, candidates for U.S. House of Representatives are on the ballots despite some last-minute court orders ordering two North Carolina counties to redraw the legislative districts and a possible delay of that primary to June 7.
“In each election, voters should mark their preference in all contests–including candidates for U.S. House appearing on ballots,” said State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach.
Litigation over the state’s Congressional districts has led to a complete reworking of boundaries, which could mean that the Congressional primary could be officially on June 7.