Randolph Co. reduces polling places for Election Day

Aug. 19, 2013 @ 04:03 PM

Voters casting ballots in municipal elections throughout Randolph County on Nov. 5 may have to go to a new polling place as the Board of Elections cuts the number of county voting locations almost in half.
The Randolph County Board of Elections will reduce the number of polling places from 40 to 22 starting with this year’s municipal elections in towns and cities such as Trinity. While the number of polling locations will shrink, in part as a cost-saving measure, the Board of Elections will maintain an equivalent amount of voting machines as in previous elections to guard against long waits, said Elections Director Melissa Johnson.
The move also is a response to the popularity of early voting, known formally as one-stop absentee balloting. In certain elections, such as presidential voting years, half the Randolph County electorate in some locations takes advantage of early voting, Johnson told The High Point Enterprise. The use of early voting, begun 13 years ago in North Carolina, has cut down appreciably on the number of people casting ballots on Election Day itself.
“The Board of Elections talked about this for several years,” Johnson said Monday. “Obviously there are going to be a larger number of registered voters at each polling place. But when we looked at the early voting turnout versus the Election Day turnout, we’re not going to end up with too large a number of people to handle on Election Day.”
The Board of Elections will mail an updated voter card to county residents whose polling place changes. The card will have the voter’s new precinct name and polling place.
In the city of Trinity, the number of Election Day polling places will shrink from three to one. The city of Trinity polling place on Nov. 5 will be at Trinity Memorial United Methodist Church at 7140 N.C. 62.
Johnson estimates that the county Board of Elections will save $300,000 to $500,000 during the next three to four years, such as through reduced numbers of phone or data lines and other lower logistical costs.
Another issue that drove the change is that some of the eliminated polling places weren’t easily accessible to voters with disabilities, Johnson said.
The county Board of Elections passed a resolution in May to merge precincts, and submitted a proposal to the N.C. State Board of Elections, which approved the move earlier this month.
The county Board of Elections reached its decision to reduce the number of polling places before the N.C. General Assembly recently made wholesale changes to state elections laws, which includes cutting out a week of early voting starting next year. But Johnson said she believes the abbreviated early voting period still will allow enough voters to cast ballots to avoid an Election Day crush in Randolph County.
“We can always make changes down the road if we need to. We don’t want long lines,” she said.

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528


For more information about the changes in polling places in Randolph County, check the Board of Elections website at www.co.randolph.nc.us/elections or call 318-6900. A list of precinct changes also is available at the elections office at 158 Worth St. in Asheboro.