Wake County Board of Elections conversion into COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center means no more early voting site downtown

Elaina Athans Image
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Why there's no longer an early voting site in downtown Raleigh
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The closest one to downtown is the Roberts Community Center on the east side of city. Officials encourage people to mail in a ballot or vote in person on Election Day.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County Board of Elections on Salisbury Street is where, for years, people went to handle voting-based business.

But now the spot is being used as Wake County's COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center.

The switch has led to concerns and confusion.

People are still going to the downtown Raleigh location with important documents and the mistake is costing them time.

The new Board of Elections building is at 1200 N. New Hope Road, about 15 minutes away, past 440, off New Bern Avenue.

It has been a busy spot in the days leading up to the November 3 election.

On Thursday, the parking lot was packed and security officers helped direct traffic. People streamed in and out of the building.

Gail King was there to submit an absentee ballot for the first time.

"I want to make sure my vote gets counted," King said.

People have been physically handing over their absentee ballot, even though they can be mailed in.

"They're still coming here and standing in line sometimes just turn it in so, we've not figured that one out yet," Wake County Board of Elections Director Gary Sims said.

Once early voting begins October 15, the spot will not be an option.

There will be 20 early voting sites across Wake County. None in downtown Raleigh.

The closest one to downtown is the Roberts Community Center, and that is on the east side of city. Chavis Park is undergoing renovations.

Some older residents are upset about the change.

One woman called it a "blow," and said she likes being able to walk to places.

Sims is encouraging voters to check bus schedules. He also suggests visiting one of the 206 precincts come Election Day or mailing in a ballot.

"We're getting mail daily by the bucketloads coming back in," Sims said. "We're checking postmarks. We're seeing that they're literally coming back the next from day from the time the person dropped it off at the post office."