ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County voters turned out by the dozens on the first day of early voting Thursday at the one polling place available in downtown Rockingham.
A total of 226 voters took advantage of the first day of early voting, the period for which was cut short from previous years due to legislative action.
“I think we had a good first day,” said Connie Kelly, director of elections for Richmond County. “It’s higher than I thought.”
Kelly said 2010 was the best, most recent election in which to compare the opening days of early voting. That year, 222 showed up at the polls when they first opened. Kelly noted that year, however, included a hotly contested race for sheriff.
This year, the local contests include seven candidates vying for four seats on the Board of Education and two candidates for Clerk of Superior Court.
While each race is a lower profile than the sheriff’s in 2010, both contests appear to have grabbed voters’ attention. Teachers and administrators have reason to make their personal choices for a Board of Education, from which they will be looking for support for increased pay and a return of tenure.
The Richmond County Board of Elections has coordinated a schedule for early voting that will exceed the state minimum of 113 hours by 30 minutes.
Complying with new state law that eliminated a week of early voting but still required offering 113 hours to the public wasn’t easy. Connie Kelly, elections director, said three sites throughout Richmond County will help voters have convenient access to cast their ballots prior to the May 6 primary election.
Board of Elections office
Located at 221 S. Hancock St., Rockingham.
Early voting hours: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through May 2; 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 3.
Located at 1042 W. Hamlet Ave., Hamlet.
Early voting hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29 and April 30; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 2; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 3.
Ellerbe Town Hall
Located at 108 W. Page St., Ellerbe.
Early voting hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29 and April 39; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 2; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 3.