There will be one-stop voting sites opened to the public on one Sunday this year, but it remains to be seen whether the extra date proves beneficial for voters or feasible for the county. Previous experience with Sunday voting brought out the sparsest of crowds, but the county has heeded another outcry for the additional day.
“We’re going to do one Sunday,” said Donna Marshburn, director of the Sampson County Board of Elections.
That day will be Sunday, Oct. 21, when one-stop voting will be available from 2-6 p.m.
In addition to the Board of Elections building at the County Complex in Clinton, early voting sites are located at the Newton Grove Fire Department, at 212 Weeksdale St., Newton Grove; the Garland Fire and Rescue facility, at 190 S. Church Ave., Garland; and the Roseboro Municipal Building, at 101 W. Pleasant St., Roseboro.
Early voting begins on Thursday, Oct. 18, and will extend through the Saturday before the election, Nov. 3. Such voting will be available at the Board of Elections from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during that time, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Ballots can be cast at the three other county locations during the same span from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Saturday voting will be from 10 to 4 p.m. at all four sites, with the only exception being the final day of early voting, Saturday, Nov. 3, when all voting statewide will end at 2 p.m. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6, during which all 23 of the county’s precincts will be open to the public from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
For just the second time, Sunday voting will be thrown into the mix, giving local voters yet another day to get ballots in early at any of the four sites.
“We did this one time in 2008, when we stayed open one Sunday,” Marshburn recalled. “We had people that really pushed for that, a lot of the churches said they were going to bring them in by the busload.”
However, not only were there no buses, there were barely any cars. A dozen or less people showed up the entire day.
Again this year, Sampson County Board of Elections officials have been approached by a contingent of people that have urged the availability of Sunday voting. The county has obliged, but whether it is feasible is still up in the air.
Rough calculations by Marshburn show that to man each site with four people for five hours on that Sunday (travel and prep time included), while also taking into account the utility cost for the one-stop facilities and mileage pay for workers, the cost would be at least $2,000, a conservative estimate for what is one of the shorter days.
“It’s very expensive for the Board of Elections to open three sites and keep them open, especially on Saturdays. Time will tell if it will be fruitful,” said Marshburn. “We did not have a tremendous turnout the last time we did (Sunday voting), but we could have a big turnout this time. Time will tell.”
While Sunday voting may not have received a huge turnout, early voting has proven to bring Sampson residents out in droves, with the 2010 general election seeing nearly one-third of the total votes cast in the weeks leading up to election day.
During the 2010 general election, of the 17,499 total ballots cast as part of the 2010 general election, 5,906 people cast their ballots as part of early voting, — 33.8 percent.
“A lot of people like the early voting,” Marshburn said. “It gives them an opportunity they don’t have to go to the polling place.”
This election will offer one more chance.
For more information about early voting, contact the Sampson County Board of Elections at 910-592-5796.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.