Early voting, which begins April 19 for the May Primary Election, will be held at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension building at 123 Caroline St., Rockingham.
Richmond County Board of Commissioners Chair Kenneth Robinette promised the Board of Elections that a solution to their office space issue would be found, at the commissioners’ monthly meeting on Monday evening.
The Board of Elections approached the county commissioners about needing a new location after early voting grew in popularity. The Board of Elections finds the parking at their 221 S. Hancock St. address in Rockingham is too narrow and close to the road. The office space within the building does not accommodate the voting machines well, either.
“Voters are uncomfortable parking along the side of our office due to the retainer wall and are forced to park in the county parking lot above, which causes courthouse & sheriff’s office employees to look for alternate parking,” wrote the Board of Elections in a letter to the county commissioners.
The Elections Office needs to be able to fit 42 voting machines in its space.
“We looked at several locations,” Board of Elections Director Connie Kelly told the county board Monday. She was accompanied by the Board of Elections Chair Hilda Pemberton. “One-stop voting has really taken off. We did not anticipate the primary election generating this much interest.”
Pemberton explained that the situation needed immediate attention because the Board of Elections has to notify the state about where the voting will occur, before state elections take place in May.
“So we are running out of time,” said Robinette. “It is a bad situation where you are, but we have to look at the big picture. This should not be a quick fix.”
The Board of Elections had considered renting space on East Broad Avenue, belonging to Richard and Michael McInnis, for three months, to the tune of $5,000. However, they acknowledged that they knew it wouldn’t work out in the long-run because of a lack of space.
For early voting, parking at the Cooperative Extension Office will be designated and early voting will take place in the far right of the Human Services Complex.
A final decision on permanently moving Board of Elections services has yet to be made.
For more information about early voting, contact the Board of Elections at 910-997-8253.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.