Our View: Voting changes come to Randolph

Aug. 21, 2013 @ 02:23 AM

The popularity of early voting is translating into some pretty hefty savings of taxpayer dollars — at least in Randolph County.
Earlier this year, the Randolph Board of Elections decided to revamp its voting precincts by merging many of them and reducing the number of precincts from 40 down to 22. Earlier this month, the N.C. State Board of Elections approved the new Randolph plan.
Elections Director Melissa Johnson said the board had been considering the move for several years because of increasing numbers of voters using the early-voting option. Early voting, officially called one-stop absentee balloting, began in North Carolina 13 years ago. Last year, in Randolph in some precincts, half of the voters cast ballots during the early-voting period.
The precinct changes place more voters into fewer precincts. But that’s not an issue, based on actual voting patterns, according to elections officials.
“Obviously, there are going to be a larger number of registered voters at each polling place,” Johnson told the Enterprise. “But when we looked at the early voting turnout verses the Election Day turnout, we’re not going to end up with too large a number of people to handle on Election Day.”
Many voters in the Archdale, Trinity and New Market areas of northern Randolph will see changes if they wait until Election Day to cast their ballots.
Archdale precincts I, II and III have been combined and all three voting locations moved to the Randolph Community Services Building on Balfour Drive. In Trinity, the Prospect, Trinity East and Trinity West precincts have been combined and will vote at Trinity Memorial United Methodist Church on N.C. 62, where Prospect voters have been casting ballots for several years.
In the New Market community, the former New Market North and South precincts have been combined into a single New Market precinct, which will vote at Cedar Square Friends Meeting on Harlow Road. The Trinity/Tabernacle precinct is unchanged, and voters will continue to cast ballots at Popular Ridge Friends Meeting on Hoover Hill Road, Trinity.
Elections officials estimate these moves countywide will save taxpayers $300,000 to $500,000 over three to four years. That’s a significant chunk of change for Randolph taxpayers. Additionally, in the taxpayer’s favor, elections officials won’t be required to buy new voting machines to comply with new state laws. Randolph has for years used optical scanner voting machines to tabulate paper ballots that voters mark.
Sure, it will take a little time for some Randolph voters to get used to the new precinct alignments, especially if they are traditionalists who wait until Election Day to cast ballots. But the savings to taxpayers is well worth any learning curve for getting used to new precincts.