BEAUFORT — Voters in two of Carteret County’s smaller precincts will cast their ballots at a different location Tuesday, Nov. 3 as a result of recent changes.
Wednesday, the County Board of Elections approved in a split vote to move Marshallberg/Smyrna voters to the Otway/Straits/Bettie/Gloucester polling place and have Mill Creek voters cast their ballots at Newport No. 1. The precinct changes are only for the 2020 presidential election.
Staff made the recommendation amid strains on ability to staff polling locations.
“It goes back to having experienced chief judges and judges who know the precinct, and we will not have that (here),” BOE Deputy Director Margot Burke told the board at its Wednesday meeting at the Beaufort offices. “…We’re having a hard time finding chief judges and judges for the other…precincts.”
The board split over the move of the Mill Creek precinct, with Democrats Amy Holland and Susie Cuthrell voting against the motion, and Democrat Gerald Godette joining Republicans Jeanette Deese and Dale Gillikin in the affirmative. Those in opposition preferred moving the precinct to Wiregrass/Harlowe, rather than Newport No. 1.
“I disagree with that recommendation on the last one. I think that Harlowe would be better,” Ms. Holland said. “They (the Wiregrass/Harlowe precinct) don’t vote as many and it’s the proximity, the distance to go.”
Ms. Cuthrell noted Mill Creek voters are spread out geographically, with some closer to the Wiregrass/Harlowe polling place at Harlowe United Methodist Churchand others near the Newport No. 1 location at St. James United Methodist Church.
Staff said both options could adequately accommodate the 506 registered Mill Creek voters, even with social-distancing guidelines.
All members seemed in favor of moving Marshallberg/Smyrna voters to the Otway/Straits/Bettie/Gloucester polling site at Woodville Baptist Church in Bettie. That will affect 580 registered voters.
All voters with a new polling place as a result of Wednesday’s decision will receive a mailing from the BOE with information about the change ahead of election day.
Earlier this year, the board permanently combined the Atlantic/Sea Level and Cedar Island precincts to vote at the Atlantic Fire Department. The panel also combined the Indian Beach/Salter Path precinct with Pine Knoll Shores. Those voters will cast their ballots at Pine Knoll Shores Town Hall.
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