LUMBERTON — Beginning Thursday, voters who don’t want to risk standing in a long line on May 8 during the primary will have an opportunity to cast their ballots early.
Actually a lot of chances, at multiple sites throughout the county and spread over 13 days.
One Stop Voting, during which voters can not only vote but register to do so if they have not done so previously, begins at the Board of Elections office in Lumberton on Thursday. On April 23 it begins as well at five satellite sites in all corners of the county.
Voters can cast ballots at any of the sites, unlike on May 8, when they can only cast ballots at their precinct site.
The menu is inviting as there are races for sheriff, district attorney, four seats on the Board of Education for the Public Schools of Robeson County, four seats on the Robeson County Board of Commissioners, state legislative seats, and competitive races for the 9th District in the U.S. House.
Ballots can be darkened at the Board of Elections, which is at 800 N. Walnut St., Thursday and Friday and then each weekday for the next two weeks from 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. each day. The final opportunity will come on May 5, which is a Saturday, when the office will be open from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The satellite sites are the Fairmont Fire Hall and Senior Citizen Center at 421 S. Main St. in Fairmont; Gilbert Patterson Library at 210 Florence St. in Maxton; Pembroke Library at 413 Blaine St. in Pembroke; Red Springs Community Center at 122 Cross St. in Red Springs; and the St. Pauls Town Hall at 210 W. Blue St. in St. Pauls.
The sites will be open to voters from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the following days: April 23, April 24, April 27, April 30, May 1, and May 4. The hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 25, April 26, May 2 and May 3.
Republicans must fill out a Republican ballot, and Democrats must fill out a Democratic ballot. Unaffiliated voters can decide which ballot they wish to fill out and make that request. There has been a surge in the number of unaffiliated voters in recent weeks as Republicans attempt to vote in the sheriff’s race. It is too late to change registration, but unregistered voters have the choice on how to register during One Stop.
The primary winners will advance to the General Election on Nov. 6, except in the case of the school board, which is nonpartisan. The winners of the school board race on May 8 will be sworn into a four-year term in July.
A new state law lowers the threshold to avoid a runoff in races with more than three candidates. For example, in the sheriff’s race, which has five Democrats running but no Republicans, that threshold is a minimum of 30 percent of all the ballots cast. In the past, it has been 40 percent.
Seventeen-year-olds who turn 18 after the May 8 primary but before the Nov. 6 General Election are eligible to vote in the primary, but not in the school board race.