One site to be in Havelock

Voters in Craven County were approved for extra days and hours to cast One Stop early ballots by the N.C. Board of Elections.

The state board heard from 33 of the 100 counties that did not have unanimous plans in place for the 17 days of early voting, Oct. 20 to Nov. 5.

Craven County submitted a majority and alternative plan, as did most of the counties that met with the state board during an 11-hour session last week in Raleigh.

Craven voters were allotted an extra Sunday to vote — Oct. 23. The only difference in the alternative plan by Democrat Veda Trice was a request for two Sundays of early voting.

Meloni Wray, elections director in Craven County, said the approved plan would not produce any undue hardship in the way of personnel or expense and that the approved plan should allow everyone a chance to vote.

Craven voting will offer 567 hours at seven sites, including weekdays, Saturdays and two Sundays. The added Sunday in Craven County only involves the county elections office at the county administration building in New Bern, corner of Craven and Broad streets.

“Our plan is very generous,” Wray said. “I don’t believe that anyone is disenfranchised or their right to vote taken away from them because we offer absentee by mail, which started (Friday).”

Early Craven voting sites include the Board of Elections; Cove City fire station, 425 South Main St., Cove City; Grantham No. 7 fire station, 1705 Old Cherry Point Road; Havelock New Beginnings Ministry of Faith, 30 Park Lane, Havelock; Rhems fire station, 5860 U.S. 17 South; Vanceboro fire station, 375 N.C. 43; and West New Bern Recreation Center, 1225 Pinetree Drive, New Bern.

The need for new county plans came after a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in July that reversed several portions of a 2013 ballot access law.

Those included doing away with voter ID and limiting early One Stop voting to 10 days. The decision restored the full 17 days, and county boards had to present new plans to the state. The appeals court judges said Republican legislative action was discriminatory against black voters with “almost surgical precision.”

Voters can request a ballot by mail or from the local elections offices through Nov. 1.

For more information, call the Board of Elections office at 636-6610 or go online to www.cravencountync.gov/departments/elc.cfm.

Charlie Hall is a reporter for the Sun Journal.