Early voting not extended in New Hanover or Brunswick Counties

Reported by Claire Simms - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email
Updated by Kristy Ondo - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The state Board of Elections has said all North Carolina counties can stay open an extra four hours Saturday, but New Hanover and Brunswick Counties have voted not to extend hours.

"Basically, for lack of another word, we have a Category Five election coming and we feel we need to be prepared for Tuesday," said Margaret Haynes, the chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Elections.

Some local party officials were not happy with the board's decision.

"I'm a little disappointed that the polls will not be open until 5 o'clock on Saturday. We have so many people trying to vote and I think it's important to give everybody an opportunity to vote that wants to vote," said Jim Morgan, the chair of the New Hanover County Democratic party.

The state required the board's vote be unanimous. If just one member wanted to extend the voting hours, it had to be done.

In the end, board members agreed that extending the Saturday hours would force them to work around the clock to prepare for election day.

"We want everybody to vote. We've had two weeks to vote. So, when you've had two weeks, it really shouldn't come down to extending something for four hours," said Haynes.

Haynes said as long as you are in line by 1:00 PM on Saturday, you will get to cast your ballot.

The state Board of Elections made the decision because of the long lines that have formed across the state since early voting began two weeks ago.

According to the Associate Press, more than 1.7 million people, 30% of registered voters, cast ballots at one-stop sites through Wednesday night.

Columbus, Pender, and Bladen Counties will remain open on Saturday until 5:00 PM.

Brunswick and New Hanover Counties will close at 1:00 PM on Saturday.