Floodwaters leave some early voting locations in doubt

Monday, October 17, 2016
Early voting affected by Hurricane Matthew
Some parts of the state have early voting locations affected by Hurricane Matthew's flooding.

Just days before early voting is set to begin in North Carolina, several polling places are still shuttered in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

Early voting begins Thursday.

Officials in Lenoir County are still trying to access an early voting location in Pink Hill that was cut off by floodwater.

"We certainly will make every effort in the Pink Hill area to make sure voters are able to get there to that particular precinct," said Lenoir County Board Chairman Craig Hill.

According to the North Carolina Board of Elections, three one-stop early voting sites in the state are out of commission including two in Lenoir County and one in Columbus County.

Several more sites could have to be relocated in Robeson, Cumberland, Bertie, Edgecombe, Hoke, Wayne and Pitt counties.

Friday, a judge ordered early voter registration be extended through Wednesday in 36 counties most affected by Matthew.

In a letter to the BOE, the NC NAACP asked for an extension of the entire early voting period and additional mobile sites for areas hardest hit.

Democrats say the state is obligated to protect voters' rights.

"While they're concerned about preserving their lives, trying to get their lives back to some normal and looking out for their kids and their families, we ought to be looking out as vigorously for their well-being and their full participation in this democracy," said Sen. Dan Blue, (D-Wake).

Blue plans to tour polling sites this week in Cumberland, Robeson and Columbus Counties to assess the damage for himself.

"We're ready to fight and advocate and do whatever we need to ensure all of these people can get access to their polling places," he said.

Gov. Pat McCrory told ABC11 he is also in favor of extending the early voting period.

"We should make sure those people who are out of their houses right now have a chance to do the proper early voting," he said.

The BOE said voters who cannot get to a precinct can mail in an absentee ballot.

The deadline to request one is November 1.

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