Thanks to law passed by the N.C. General Assembly in 2013, paper ballots are returning to early voting sites in Forsyth County and elsewhere when early voting for the May 8 primary begins Thursday.
So rather than touching a screen to indicate a candidate preference, early voters will be filling in circles on paper ballots like people do when they vote on Election Day, said Tim Tsujii, the county’s director of elections.
Tsujii said the 2013 legislation decertified the touch-screen computers that people were using during early voting.
The county can’t even use the touch-screen systems for people with disabilities, so special equipment has been rented that will allow people with disabilities to create a paper ballot that can then be fed into the counter.
Early voting is also called one-stop voting because people who are not registered can both register and vote during the early-voting period.
However, you can’t register during early voting and then wait until the actual Election Day on May 8 to vote, Tsujii said.
People who register early have to vote early.
Here’s the setup and some ground rules for early voting:
- On Thursday and Friday, and from Monday to Friday the week after that, early voting will be taking place only at the central county elections office at the Forsyth County Government Center, at 201 N. Chestnut St. in Winston-Salem. Voting will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- From Monday to Friday, April 30 to May 4, early voting will continue from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the central elections office, and will also be taking place from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at satellite locations in Kernersville, Lewisville, Rural Hall and Winston-Salem.
- On Saturday, May 5, early voting will take place at the central office and the satellite locations from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Here are the early voting satellite locations: Kernersville VFW Post 5352, at 612 Edgewood St., Kernersville; Lewisville Branch Library, 6490 Shallowford Road, Lewisville; Rural Hall Branch Library, 7125 Broad St., Rural Hall; and Southside Branch Library, 3185 Buchanan St., Winston-Salem.
- Anyone who is eligible to vote can vote at any early-voting site.
- There is no voter ID requirement to vote for most people, but people who are registering during early voting will have to bring some type of ID with a name and current address to complete the registration.
- Curbside voting will be available for those who need it.
- Democrats and Republicans have primary contests, but Libertarian and Green Party members do not, so they can’t vote during the primary. Unaffiliated voters can choose to vote in either the Democratic or Republican primaries.
- Sample ballots are available at the county board of elections website: www.forsyth.cc/elections.
Tsujii said the county’s paper ballot tabulation system is getting old and needs replacement, but that there was not time to get new equipment in place for the primary, hence the use of the older machines.
After the primary, the county elections office plans to look at various options for new equipment, and will hold a public demonstration of various types of equipment in August.
“The (current) tabulators are well over a decade old, and it is about time to replace those,” Tsujii said.