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NC Democratic Party Sues After Early Voting Site Closed Indefinitely

A Reidsville early-voting site has been shutdown in advance of the election.
A Reidsville early-voting site has been shutdown in advance of the election.

The North Carolina Democratic Party has filed a lawsuitagainst the Rockingham County Board of Elections for closing an early voting site indefinitely.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, the state party says the local board of elections unlawfully closed a site on Barnes Road in Reidsville that is used predominantly by Democratic voters.

A sign posted on a Reidsville early-voting site.
Credit Courtesy Heather Leja
A sign posted on a Reidsville early-voting site.

In its court filing, the Democratic Party is seeking a preliminary injunction requiring Rockingham County to re-open the early voting site at the Salvation Army Community Center immediately and to, “make up for the hours it was unlawfully closed."

The lawsuit also asks the court to mandate an extension of early voting on Saturday, Oct. 31 until 5 p.m., from the previously scheduled 3 p.m. closure. It also calls for the site to hold early voting at that location from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday, in order to make up for the closure. Early voting is scheduled to conclude statewide on Saturday.

The early voting site in Reidsville, NC was shuttered for several hours on Monday. The stated reason was for cleaning after three poll workers called in sick. According to multiple people, there have been at least three positive cases of COVID-19 traced back to the site.

However, multiple Rockingham County voters, volunteers and poll watchers who spoke with WUNC said the closure is unnecessary.

“This is a result of a failure of the board to act,” said Rockingham County resident Meredith Bailey, speaking about the Rockingham County Board of Elections. “The board failed to prepare for this moment. They didn’t have a deep bench to staff the site.”

Ivan Maldonado lives in Reidsville and spoke to WUNC News Friday by phone. Maldonado says he applied to be a poll worker in early September but after filing out an on-line application he never heard back. On Friday morning he tried to vote at the Salvation Army Community Center early voting location.

“It’s weird because when you go on-line to check your status and see if you can vote, that’s where they kept sending me but when I showed up today they told me it was closed and I had to go elsewhere," said Maldonado.

He said he traveled to another early voting site in Rockingham County which was about 15 minutes away to cast his ballot.

Calls to two members of the Rockingham County Board of Elections were not immediately returned.

A court hearing was scheduled to take place early Friday afternoon in Rockingham County.

This story will be updated.
Copyright 2020 North Carolina Public Radio. To see more, visit WUNC.org.

Jeff Tiberii first started posing questions to strangers after dinner at La Cantina Italiana, in Massachusetts, when he was two-years-old. Jeff grew up in Wayland, Ma., an avid fan of the Boston Celtics, and took summer vacations to Acadia National Park (ME) with his family. He graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, and moved to North Carolina in 2006. His experience with NPR member stations WAER (Syracuse), WFDD (Winston-Salem) and now WUNC, dates back 15 years.