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Plan to amend early voting hours awaits new meeting

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Dare Elections Director Michele Barnes speaks at the Aug. 12 Board of Elections meeting.

An attempt by the Dare County Board of Elections to modify the early voting hours it had approved on Aug. 12 will now have to wait for an Aug. 24 public meeting of that board.

      At that Aug. 12 meeting, the board agreed to allow 232.5 hours of early voting this fall — an increase of 28.5 hours over the original 204 hours first approved in July. That did not satisfy Dare League of Women Voters and Democracy North Carolina representatives, who urged the board to add more early morning and evening weekday hours, along with more weekend hours.

      Three days later, on Aug. 15, those groups unsuccessfully sought a Dare County Board of Commissioners resolution asking the Board of Elections to submit a new plan providing more early morning voting hours and expanding Saturday hours and locations.

      Then, in a surprise development announced on Aug. 17, Dare Elections Director Michele Barnes explained that she had recommended another voting hours change to the board during a conference call meeting that the board unanimously approved. That change added additional hours to the Manteo voting site, expanding the total early voting hours to 262.5.

      But on Aug. 22, amid concerns that such a change requires a public meeting rather than a conference call, the Board of Elections announced it would be holding a meeting on Aug. 24. At that time, it is widely expected the board will vote to approve the 262.5 hours and it is also expected that some advocates will be on hand to push for further expansion of the early voting hours. 

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