WJTV News Channel 12 - More than 5K votes in Pitt County early voting

More than 5K votes in Pitt County early voting

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - Polls are open until Saturday, May 3rd in all 100 counties so people can vote in person before the May 6 primary day in North Carolina.
    
More than 150,000 votes have been cast in North Carolina so far. That includes more than 5,700 people who voted early in Pitt County, nearly 2,700 people in Onslow County, 2,000 in Craven County and 1,900 in Lenoir County.

Pitt County Board of Elections officials say nearly 5 percent of registered Pitt County voters voted early this year. In a release, Director of Elections, Dave Davis reports 5,728 people voted early in Pitt County. Friday, May 2 was the busiest day, bringing in more than a thousand votes.

Early voting started Thursday, April 24th. It's different from similar periods in recent years because the General Assembly passed a law in 2013 reducing the number of early-voting days from 17 to 10.
    
Citizens also can no longer register to vote at early-voting sites and cast ballots at the same time. Voter registration ended two weeks ago. Early voting ends May 3. More information can be found here
    
The law required counties to offer the same number of cumulative hours of voting time during the 10 days as they did before. But dozens of counties received exemptions for this election.
    
Voters are casting ballots for U.S. Senate, Congress, the legislature, court posts and local seats.

In Pitt County, voters reacted to some of the changes. Mary Newton says she voted early for the first time, she and her husband plan to be away on election day. "It is a good idea for people who work many hours, many days to have early voting. But I think, a week, max 10 days is very adequate."

Pitt County's Elections Director Dave Davis says it was slow in some locations. Davis says the elimination of same-day registration may be to blame for low turn out at East Carolina University's first on campus location, the Willis Building.

Davis reports some issues on the first day of voting. "It has been brought to our attention that a great number of electioneers (individuals hired by candidates to campaign or who volunteer to campaign) are irritating and angering many of our voters.  As the voter enters the polling place they often are complaining about the electioneers outside."

Davis says this practice can sometime cost candidates votes.  "To add further weight to this request, we have heard many voters say, 'Well, I was going to vote for him/her until I had to deal with all that.  I’m not voting for them now.'  Over zealousness can actually cost candidates votes."

The Elections Office also reports of hearing of pre-marked sample ballots being handed out by various groups and individuals.  Davis said, "All pre-marked sample ballots MUST contain a statement containing who prepared it and that it was not generated by the Board of Elections (NCGS 163-165.2 and 163-278.39).  Any reports we receive as to violations of this law will be turned over to the State Board of Elections."

In Pitt County, 698 people voted on the first day of early voting.
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