Apparently, Guilford County citizens really like early voting.
That’s the word from Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt who just oversaw the first early voting period under the new paper ballot world order.
Collicutt said that, though early voting didn’t start out strong in the county, it finished with a bang as voters headed into the Tuesday, March 3 primary that’s dominating print and television media.
“For a while, I was thinking that the turnout would not be great,” he said. “At first it seemed slow and behind pace.”
Collicutt said that changed as the Saturday, Feb. 28 deadline for early voting approached. He said voters really began to come out in strong numbers.
He also said he isn’t sure if the early voting numbers this year will surpass the large numbers that the county saw in 2016, but he added that there certainly are a lot of people who took advantage of the right to vote early this year.
In the 2016 primary, there were about 32,700 early votes cast in Guilford County, and, two days before early voting closed this year, roughly 25,000 votes had been cast.
The early voting is usually very heavy on the final days – so this year’s number may end up being a record for the county in a primary.
According to Collicutt, things have gone very smoothly for his elections office and his staff, but he admitted that, this year, setting up early voting sites and getting things in order was more challenging than ever. This year, Guilford County had to switch from electronic voting machines to paper ballots and, due to the way state legislators handled the law, the elections office had to do so very, very quickly.
He said that the recent snowfall threw some things off and that, generally, it was very difficult to know how many of each different ballot-style to have at the early voting sites. Every site had to have copies of ballot styles for every section of the county, and this is the first time Guilford County has held an election under the current system. That often meant an election official had to hop in the car quickly and hurry down to a polling place with to deliver ballots.