No early primary voting in Carrboro?

Carrboro was notified yesterday that their Town Hall would not be used as a one-stop early voting site in May. Apparently, the Orange County Board of Elections has decided to only have two one-stop locations for this year's primary: Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, and the Board's own office in Hillsborough. The e-mail below indicates that there will still be an early voting site in Carrboro for the Novemeber general election, but doesn't offer any explanation for the primary change.

From: Tracy Reams []
Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2010 10:56 AM
To: zzDept. Mail - Town Manager; zzDept. Mail - Town Clerk
Subject: 2010 Primary One-Stop Voting

Good morning.  Since normally we establish a one-stop early voting site at Carrboro Town Hall, I wanted to let you know that for the 2010 May Primary Election we will not conduct one-stop voting at Town Hall.  The Elections Board met last week and approved 2 sites for early voting which will be held at the Morehead Planetarium and the Board of Elections office in Hillsborough.

I am pretty sure the Board will want to conduct one-stop early voting in October at Town Hall for the November General Elections.  I will let you know ASAP so that we can get on the schedule.  Thanks for working with us and hope you have a good week.

Tracy Reams, Director
Orange County Board of Elections
 919-245-2351  919-245-2351




I asked Tracy and Billie Cox (BOE Chair) for more infomation about this change, below is our correspondence. I'm not sure if they don't understand my question or if they're actually evading it, but it seems this was a financial decision.

From: Ruby SinreichHi Tracy. I was wondering if you could offer any more information about this change. What prompted it? Was it budget related? Is there any guarantee that one-stop will return to Carrboro in November, or is will that also be up for debate?


From: Tracy Reams The Board considered the cost to operate additional sites, voter participation, hours of operation and setup procedures at each location.  In preparing the 2010-2011 election budget, I have been instructed by the Board to budget for additional sites for the 2010 General Election.  It is a Board decision, but I am pretty sure the Board will approve the Carrboro  Town Hall site as long as the funds are approved and Town Hall can accommodate us for the November Election.


From: Ruby SinreichThanks Tracy, but this doesn't really answer my questions. You say the board "considered" a variety of factors, but what did they conclude about them? Are there not enough people voting at the Carrboro site or is it more expensive to operate or are Carrboro voters just too left-wing?  I know it's not the last one, but we are left to guess without understanding the assumptions or conclusions behind the Board's rationale.Perhaps Billie can shed some light on this?


From: Billie CoxRuby, each county is required to have a voting place on county property.  This will be at the Board of Elections.  The traditional 'most votes cast" site in Orange for many years has been Morehead.  In order to save money, our board voted to have these two places for the primary.  Of course, people may also cast absentee ballots by mail.  We will budget for additional sites for November. Thanks for you  interest.  Billie

Carrboro townhall has always been much easier to vote at than at the Planetarium in my experience (both in terms of lines when there are lines, and parking).  I can imagine someone trying to vote at Carrboro on their lunch break, getting turned away, and not trying it again.  Or just not bothering in the first place because of it.That said, if we have to cut an early voting location in the urban parts of OC, I'd prefer it to be that one so as not to cut off students from voting who would have more transportation difficulties.  But faciliting voting is an area of government where I imagine most citizens are okay with their taxes being spent on... certainly likely voters anyways.

Keep in mind that the early voting sites are open for anyone in the County to vote. So if you are in Carrboro, maybe going to the Farmer's Market, you can easily pop in and vote. Given that the two other early voting sites are 1. far away or 2. have no free public parking, I think this will depress early voting in the entire county. I know it's going to be a lot harder for me to vote in May thanks to this change. I get on and off the bus at Morehead Planetarium several times a week, but not during early voting hours! Maybe I can go up to Hillsborough on a Saturday.

even though I live in Chapel Hill. Once, I am embarrassed to say, I was trying to go vote in Carrboro and ended up in Hillsborough (in my defense, I hadn't lived here that long). Hillsborough's site was a very convenient place to vote, although because of distance I would prefer early voting in Carrboro and think it is unfortunate that the May primary will not use a site there. I think this will decrease the voter turnout.

I've enjoyed having the early voting sites and would certainly prefer that the Carrboro site be retained for the May primary.  But given the many hardships and inconveniences that certain citizens of this country have had to endure in order to exercise their right to vote I would hope that it would take a lot more than the elimination of the Carrboro site to cause people of Orange County to decide not to bother to vote.

If anyone at the County level is reading, (Billie?) I hope that some more options get floated other than simply eliminating Carrboro Town Hall as a one-stop voting location.I would much prefer to vote using One-Stop as it provides me much more flexibility than election day voting.Eliminating Carrboro, especially on Saturdays, takes away the synergy of voting/Farmer's market, which is common.  So the county should consider keeping Carrboro open on Saturdays only if there is a cost case to do so.If Carrboro must be eliminated as a one-stop location, then please make it easier for everyone else to vote at the Planetarium by expanding the hours beyond 9:00 to 4:00.  Have the one-stop voting staffed from 7:30 to 6:30 P.M., for example.  Since the Planetarium has many evening events, this shouldn't mean holding the building open more than usual.   


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