ROCKINGHAM — Clerk of Superior Court Vickie Daniel administered the oath of office to all three Richmond County Board of Elections members during a brief swearing-in ceremony Tuesday.
Richmond County Director of Elections Connie Kelly stood by as Daniel directed Carlton Hawkins, Aulton Brown and Ernie Walters to place their left hands on a Bible and raise their right hands, repeating after her.
“This board has a big job ahead of it next year,” Kelly said. “We have a separate presidential primary possibly in March, but also if it holds, we would be implementing the photo ID.”
Beginning in 2016, North Carolina will require voters to show an acceptable form of photo identification when presenting to vote in person at the polls. Acceptable forms of ID include a North Carolina driver license or state ID card, a United States passport or military ID, a veterans identification card or tribal enrollment card.
“So we have a March presidential primary, another election in May for everything else, a possible second primary in June or July depending on how everything else goes and then the biggie in November,” Kelly said.
All three board members were renewing their terms for another two years, and their swearing-in and signing of oaths was followed by an organizational meeting to elect a chairman and a secretary. Brown was elected board chairman.
“We’ve also got to adopt our voting plan for 2015, for this year,” Kelly said. “Due to the space and parking issues, the board decided back in January just to continue on going down to the cooperative extension with early voting. Even in small elections that we could handle the crowd in here, because of the parking issues outside — and also because it confuses voters. A big election you’re going one place and a regular election you’re coming here, so they just thought it would be a better thing to keep it consistent like that.”
Daniel asked Kelly to elaborate on one of the elections she’d mentioned.
“You said there is going to be an election in March?” Daniel asked. “What is that?”
“That would be a presidential primary,” Kelly answered. “Separate. Since the late ’80s, North Carolina has not had a presidential preference primary, where you do it separated. A lot of people believed that our late date in May put North Carolina out of contention, I guess you’d say.”
A presidential preference primary is a direct vote for a specific candidate. The voter chooses the candidate by name.
The freshly sworn board members thanked Daniel and Kelley invited her to stay for chicken salad croissants and grapes. Daniel had an appointment scheduled and was unable to linger for refreshments.
“Well, you’re welcome,” Daniel said. “It was my honor to do it.”
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.