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Confused about Early Voting? NC Hotline Can Help

April 23, 2012

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Ballots can now be cast in the North Carolina May primary, with early voting in full swing, and there is now a hotline to call and website to visit to help with confusion among voters. Much of the mixed-up condition is a result of new district maps drawn by the Legislature based on the latest census figures.

Fran Poston of Asheville says she'll probably need that hotline. Every election, she requests a sample ballot from her precinct so she can review the candidates. This time, when she made her request to the Buncombe County Board of Elections, she was told her precinct has eight different ballots, and that there are 37 ballots in her county.

"Well, frankly, I think it's an insult to the voter. It's good to bring them home. You talk to your family and you talk to your friends, and then, when you go to the polls, you're prepared."

The new district maps split neighborhoods, and the new boundaries mean many voters are in new districts; about two million people statewide live in split districts, divided between two state House, Senate or Congressional districts. As a result, two voters who are neighbors could receive different ballots.

Bob Hall, the executive director of Democracy North Carolina, says he hopes the hotline can help overcome confusion, and address concerns that the new lines favor the Republican party.

"We're going to help anybody and everybody who calls. It's true that some of the ways that the lines were drawn seem to advantage one party versus another. People may be confused."

Hall suggests that all voters request a sample ballot in advance of the election.

The toll-free hotline is 866-OUR-VOTE and is operated as a public service program by the UNC School of Law in Chapel Hill, the voting rights group Democracy North Carolina, and the national Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington.

You can also find help online at NCelectionconnection.com.

Among counties most affected by split precincts: Wake, Durham, Mecklenburg, Guilford, Forsyth, Cumberland, Buncombe, Union, Johnston, Pitt, Nash, Craven, Wilson, Wayne, Lenoir, Robeson, Hoke, Richmond, Scotland, Greene, Granville, Lee, and Pasquotank.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC