PEMBROKE — Early voting, which was a major factor in the state Board of Elections’ decision to order a new Pembroke Town Council election, begins Thursday for the municipal election that will be held on March 11.
The state board of Elections ordered a new council election in late December following a hearing in Raleigh during which a number of irregularities were found in the November General Election. The board held the hearing after allegations of fraud during early voting, specifically people voting out of district, were raised.
Early voting will be held at the Pembroke Public Library beginning Thursday and ending March 8. Hours are weekdays from 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.; and Saturday, March 8, from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Voters will cast their ballots on March 11 at the Pembroke Middle School.
All eligible voters can participate in the election, not just those who cast ballots in the Nov. 5 General Election.
The new election will affect three council seats, two of which are four-year terms, and one unexpired two-year term. November results appear to have given the one four-year seat to high-vote getter Channing Jones, a challenger, while incumbent Allen Dial, who was seeking his fifth term, and challenger Teresa Locklear tied for the second four-year seat. Dial won the seat by a draw of the card before the do-over election was ordered.
In the race for the remainder of the two years on the term of Robert Williamson, who died in early 2012 shortly after taking office, Mitch Lowry appeared to win election by four votes over former Pembroke Councilman Larry McNeill.
G.L. Pridgen, a former state legislator and the newly appointed director of Robeson County’s Board of Elections, expects that the state will be watching the Pembroke election closely.
“This is the first election of 2014 and it is being held under new state regulations,” he said. “The state is looking at this as a test case. If we run into any problems, the problems can be fixed before all the counties hold primary elections in May.”
The election is following election laws that became effective Jan. 1. The biggest change from the November election is that the early one-stop voting period has been reduced to just 10 days and voters are not permitted to register and vote on the same day during the early voting period.