DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Early voting in Durham -- and much of North Carolina -- starts Thursday and lasts until Oct. 31, election officials are expecting people to show in large numbers. To match the energy, there will be enhanced health and safety precautions in place.
"There are going to be lines. Everybody is enthusiastic. A lot of people want to vote," said Derek Bowens, Durham County's Elections Director. Bowens said early voting rush hour typically slows down between 8 and 10 a.m.
Bowens' biggest suggestion is, if you can, wait a few days to mitigate the long lines that typically appear on the first day of early voting.
At Hope Valley Baptist Church in south Durham, voters will see social distancing markers outside-stretching down the breezeway but they may not be enough.
This week in Georgia and Texas, massive crowds waited for hours to cast their ballots. Bowens said staff will try to manage excessive lines to alleviate crowding.
Officials are encouraging Durham voters to visit these early voting sites because they typically have large space but low turnout, versus the county libraries which see the most traffic.
Early voting sites with less foot traffic include:
- Duke University Karsh Alumni Center
- NCCU Turner Law Building
- Durham Technical Community College Main Campus
- Greater Emanuel Temple of Grace
As voting is underway amid the COVID-19 pandemic, voters can expect to see enhanced health and safety guidelines underway at polling locations. Voters will see hand sanitizing stations at the entrance and exits of all buildings as well as dividers in place between voters and poll workers at check-in.
Booths will be cleaned after use and masks will be given to those who need them.
Voters also have the right to refuse a mask.
"To the extent that happens we'll be diligent in monitoring and assisting where we can-in certain instances there's provisions for curbside voting if you feel you might be high risk," said Bowens.
Bowens said He said there will be extra security this year.
Durham County Board of Elections has also been working with the sheriff's office to have unarmed security at each other one-stop locations. Bowens said the board has worked closely with Sheriff Birkhead on how to respond to an incident if something were to unfold at a polling location.
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