ROCKINGHAM — A federal appeals court in July blocked a North Carolina law that required voters to produce photo identification and included other provisions disproportionately affecting black voters, with the judges ruling the law was enacted “with discriminatory intent.” The Richmond County Democratic Party met Tuesday to discuss the appeal and the early voting schedule.
“That’s not an issue anymore,” said Richmond County Board of Elections member Carlton Hawkins. “If you show your ID, the staff will surely look at it, and you will not get any smart remarks or anything else. If you’ve got your ID, show it. But you don’t have to.”
Lois Jones, chairperson for the Democratic Party, reminded members that the Supreme Court decides what cases they will hear, and although Gov. Pat McCrory has threatened to appeal the ruling, it doesn’t mean the SCOTUS will hear it.
“We’ll just keep an eye on that,” said Jones. “I heard McCrory said that, but I haven’t heard anything about him actually doing the appeal. So we don’t know whether it’s talk or what. But we need to make sure that we get all our people out to vote, and we need to make sure that we’re encouraging early voting.”
With regards to early voting, Hawkins said the main site will be the N.C. Cooperative Extension office on Caroline Street in downtown Rockingham, which has been the main polling site for the last several years.
The first days for early voting will be Thursday, Oct. 20 and Friday, Oct. 21 with hours from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Extension office followed by 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the same location. On that same Saturday, the Norman Community Building will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for early voters in the northern part of the county.
For the week of Oct. 24-28, the Cooperative Extension office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29. During that week, Cole Auditorium will be open for Hamlet early voters from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and voters in Ellerbe will be able to go to the town hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The week of Oct. 31 through Nov. 4, the Cooperative Extension office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. while Cole Auditorium, Ellerbe Town Hall and Norman will rotate. The Cole will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 31, noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 1, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 2, noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 3 and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 4.
Ellerbe Town Hall will host early voters from noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3 and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 4. Norman Community Building will be open from 9 to 3 p.m. on Oct. 31 and Nov. 2 and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 4.
The following Saturday, Nov. 5, the Cooperative Extension office, Cole Auditorium and Ellerbe Town Hall will be open — 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Rockingham and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Hamlet and Ellerbe.
“State law requires they’re open until one,” said Hawkins. “We can extend it if there’s a sufficient number of people voting on that Saturday. That means if there’s a bunch of people wanting to vote, we’re not gonna shut the door cause it’s 1 o’clock.”
Hawkins is also hoping to add an additional day from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23 that would bring the total number of early voting hours to 220 ½ hours.
“The most important part is the hours are going to stay very similar to what we had to have from the last four-year presidential election,” said Hawkins. “We didn’t change ours, but we’ve added the other days in.”
Although Hawkins said the hours can be confusing, Jones said a list will be posted at the Board of Elections office and an email will be sent out with times and dates. She was imperative on the importance of getting out and voting early.
“One thing about it, some people think there’s some trickery involved in early voting, and it’s not because I early vote every time and you need to be able to tell people please go out and early vote,” said Jones. “A lot of elections are won during the early voting period. Normally, the people who get their people out for early (voting) are the candidates who win.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.