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Friday, June 14, 2024

Low voter turnout threatens to shut down early voting sites

By Yasmine Regester, Peacemaker Staff Writer / March 1, 2024

NAACP Gate City Youth Council leader Malcolm Johnson at booth for Party at the Polls, Early Voting, Barber Park. Ivan Saul Cutler/Carolina Peacemaker.

Low voter turnout at two early voting sites in East Greensboro has voting advocates concerned about the future of early voting in Guilford County. The sites in question are at Barber Park and on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University.

Early voting totals from Thursday, February 15 through Tuesday, February 27 show that 868 total ballots have been cast at Barber Park, including 819 Democrats and 47 Republicans. Over the same period, 399 ballots have been cast at the N.C. A&T site, with 385 by registered Democrats and 14 by Republicans.

“We haven’t had discussion, by the board, on cutting N.C. A&T and Barber Park. I would say that early voting is different from election voting day. Every early voting schedule is crafted from zero. Nothing is cut; it’s what we create. Every election, we use different quantities depending on the density of voter turnout areas,” said Charlie Collicutt, executive director of the Guilford County Board of Elections.

The board has not had discussions yet on what will happen in the General Election.

“I think it’s premature to think that these sites would not be included going forward,” said Collicutt.

Collicutt noted that 2024 is the first time a college campus has been used for a Presidential primary election.

“We had more voters in the 2016 primary election than the 2020 primary election, based on who the candidates were on the ballot. General elections generally have higher voter turnouts than the primary elections. We’ve seen historical turnouts for the last two presidential elections,” he said.

According to numbers from the Guilford County Board of Elections website, Saturday’s Party at the Polls event saw 56 ballots cast at the Barber Park polling site. The highest totals so far were on Tuesday, February 27, where 114 ballots were cast at Barber Park.

Mikayla Massey, Party at the Polls organizer and regional coordinator with Advance Carolina said, “The purpose is to bring folks together at the polls. We wanted to target early voting in order to impact Black voter turnout at the polls. The pros about early voting are that there aren’t long lines and there is same-day voter registration.”

A family-friendly event filled with food, activities and resources to support voters; Massey added that the twice an election cycle Party at the Polls event encourages increased voter participation across generations.

“We see that older generations have the idea of voting already ingrained in them. They actively witnessed the fight for the right to vote. And we also understand that we have to reach younger voters in a different way, so they have access to education about issues that impact them, and that their vote matters,” said Massey.

While primary elections typically see less than half of registered voters at the polls, organizers feel confident that the General Election in November will see larger numbers.

A total of 19,377 ballots have been cast across Guilford County so far in early voting.

Early voting sites operate from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays and this Saturday, March 2 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Election Day for the 2024 primary election will be on Tuesday, March 5. On Election Day, registered voters must vote at their assigned precincts from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

For more information about early voting or other election matters, visit: www.guilfordelections.org, or call (336) 641-3836.




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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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