Washed out Democracy?

Washed out Democracy?

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Photo: Lisa Sorg

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How hurricane impacted counties are prepared for early voting

Four blocks south of the Lenoir County Board of Elections office on Herritage Street in downtown Kinston, the Neuse River had hurdled its banks and was gushing over a bend in the road. The river had consumed one public park. Police had blocked a riverside walkway with yellow crime scene tape.

Although by Tuesday, the river had receded by three or four feet, it still lapped at the belly of the US 70 bridge, the main east-west thoroughfare through downtown. The highway was closed, in part because the bridge had a crack in it, said a National Guardsman who was redirecting traffic.

Lenoir County was among the hardest-hit areas by Hurricane Matthew. As of Wednesday afternoon, four of the five early-voting sites were scheduled to open on time Thursday. However, the Cooperative Extension on NC 55-11 won’t be a polling place. That road, one of two-dozen throughout the county, is closed.

Many of the 36 counties affected by Hurricane Matthew haven’t reported early-voting issues, but the real test will be Thursday when individuals have to navigate the flooded roads to get to the polls.

There were a few leaks in the Chowan County Board of Election’s Office that have since been fixed but no major damage, according to Megan Jones, an elections assistant. All six of the county’s early voting locations will be open as scheduled, but she warned Tuesday that a lot of the roads to those sites were still washed out.

“People are having to detour a lot in our area,” she said.

Voter registration in each of those counties was extended by a court order last week to today at 5 p.m. Most of the election boards’ websites, however, do not reflect that information.

The information compiled below shows which counties were affected by flooding, how they were affected and how many early-voting locations will be open.

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Beaufort County

Beaufort County Board of Elections: They didn’t have any issues with polling places.

“We’re blessed in that respect,” said Ellie Draper, a part time elections specialist.

The elections office at 1308 Highland Drive in Washington, used sandbags during the storm and some water affected the carpet, but overall damage was minor. All four early voting locations will be open (1 office and 3 off-site).

Bertie County Board of Elections: Spokesperson not available for comment at time of publication. The two normal early voting locations will be open.

Bladen County Board of Elections: Director Cynthia Shaw said Bladen County was hit pretty hard by the hurricane but her office and the other three polling sites were spared.

“Everything’s up and running,” she said. “We’re working hard.”

There are four early voting locations operating as usual.

Brunswick County Board of Elections: Spokesperson not available for comment at time of publication. There are 10 early voting locations operating normally (though not all open Thursday).

Camden County Board of Elections: Director Elaine Best said last week, officials could not get to the satellite early voting location in South Mills but that this week they can. They dealt with some floor damage but nothing major.

“We’re good to go right now,” Best said.

The two early voting locations are operating as normal.

Carteret County Board of Elections: The county early voting locations were not affected by flooding. Five locations operating as usual.

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Chowan County

Chowan County Board of Elections: Other than a few leaks in the main office that have since been fixed, flooding did not affect the actual early voting sites. However, some roads leading to them are flooded.

“People are having to detour a lot in our area,” said Megan Jones, an elections assistant.

Everything else is “fine and OK,” she said. Anyone who needs help with detour information to a polling site can call the office at 252-482-4010. Six locations are operating as usual.

Columbus County Board of Elections: Spokesperson not available for comment at time of publication.

Craven County Board of Elections: The elections office and polling sites were not affected by the flooding, according to the director, Meloni Wray. Seven early voting locations open as planned.

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Cumberland County

Cumberland County Board of Elections: One polling place scheduled for Election Day was affected by flooding and an alternate site was assigned, according to the Director Terri Robertson. They are in the process of notifying voters. The location was at the Cotton Fire Department and has been switched to the Stoney Point Fire Department. There are 10 early voting locations operating as scheduled.

Currituck County Board of Elections: Flooding did not affect any polling sites or the elections office and everything is going on as usual, according to the director, Rachel Raper. There is one early voting site operating as scheduled.

Dare County Board of Elections: Flooding did not affect the office or any polling sites. There will be four early voting sites as planned.

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Duplin County

Duplin County Board of Elections: Lydia Carrol, a clerk at the elections office, said the building was not affected, though they were closed for two days after the hurricane and had a delayed opening one day because of power outages. She said everything at this point, though, “is looking good,” and they are preparing for early voting to start Thursday. One early voting site will be open as planned.

Edgecombe County Board of Elections: The elections office was unaffected. Water made it up to the steps but not into the building, officials said. Princeville is still worse off and folks remain evacuated, but there are no polling sites there. There are six early voting sites open as planned.

Gates County Board of Elections: The office and polling sites were not affected by flooding. Six early voting sites will operate normally.

Greene County Board of Elections: Director Steven Hines Jr. said they had water in the back parking lot after the hurricane but it didn’t make it to the building. The office was closed for three days due to a power outage.

“We are very fortunate,” Hines said.

He added that they have “everything ready to go,” for early voting Thursday. One early voting location is operating normally.

Harnett County Board of Elections: The office was closed for one day following the hurricane due to a power outage. Flooding did not affect any polling sites. Five early voting locations will operate as scheduled.

Hertford County Board of Elections: The office and polling sites were not affected by flooding. Three early voting locations will operate as scheduled.

Hoke County Board of Elections: Both early voting sites, at the Board of Elections and the Rockfish Community Center, are ready to go. Two early voting locations will operate as scheduled.

Hyde County Board of Elections: There was no flooding on the mainland or at the fire station on Ocracoke. Both early voting locations will be open tomorrow.

Johnston County Board of Elections: The First Baptist Church Ministry Center in Smithfield will open tomorrow at 9 a.m. The other three locations open on Thursday, Oct. 27: The Church at Clayton Crossing and Archer Lodge Community Building in Clayton, and the American Legion Building in Benson. All early voting sites will operate on schedule.

Jones County Board of Elections: There is only one early voting site in the county, in Trenton. The polls will be open tomorrow and each weekday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Lenoir County

Lenoir County Board of Elections: Flooding forced board of elections officials to close one early-voting site, the Cooperative Extension Service in Kinston, because NC 11-55 is closed. The other four locations will open as scheduled at 8:30 a.m.

Nash County Board of Elections: Spokesperson not available for comment at time of publication.

New Hanover County Board of Elections: From Carolina Beach in the southern part of the county to Wilmington in the north, the five early-voting locations will be open on time. All early voting sites will operate on schedule.

Onslow County Board of Elections: All systems are go at the four early-voting sites. All early voting sites will operate on schedule.

Pamlico County Board of Elections: On Wednesday, Elections Director Lisa Bennett and her staff were setting up the early-voting site for opening day:

“We didn’t get the flooding that other counties did. We didn’t close for even a half day.”

All early voting sites will operate on schedule.

Pasquotank County Board of Elections: The Pasquotank River is still high, but the early-voting site at the board of elections is open and accessible. All early voting sites will operate on schedule.

Pender County Board of Elections: Spokesperson not available for comment at time of publication.

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Perquimians County

Perquimians County Board of Elections: The one early-voting site at the Board of Elections in Hertford is opening as planned. “We’re all patched up from the hurricane,” said Syndi Banks, elections director. All early voting sites will operate on schedule.

Pitt County Board of Elections: Spokesperson not available for comment at time of publication.

Robeson County Board of Elections: Spokesperson not available for comment at time of publication.

Sampson County Board of Elections: There have been no changes to the early voting schedule and all five sites will be open. All early voting sites will operate on schedule.

Washington County Board of Elections: The Board of Elections in Plymouth is the county’s one-stop site. It will be open tomorrow. All early voting sites will operate on schedule.

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Wayne County

Wayne County Board of Elections: Deputy Director Ann Risku-Smith said all early voting sites will be open on time. Floodwaters damaged one location, at the Little River Shopping Center, which is near US 70; the Little River runs under the highway. However, Risku-Smith said the building will be repaired by Oct. 27, when it was originally scheduled to open. All early voting sites will operate on schedule.

Wilson County Board of Elections: All early voting locations will be open as scheduled.

 

Read the complete series:

Part One: The rough road to the ballot box
Part Two: What’s at stake
Part Three: How hurricane impacted counties are prepared for early voting