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Early voting going briskly.
The Chronicle (Winston Salem). October 21, 2004.
By Courtney Gaillard.

Voters now have until Oct. 30 to cast an early ballot for the November election. One-Stop Absentee Voting is in full swing at seven sites around Forsyth County.

The Winston-Salem Voter Rights Coalition will be knocking on doors and making phone calls in an effort to spread the word about early voting. Linda Sutton, with the coalition, says they will contact some 2,400 registered voters to remind them to vote ahead of time if they so choose. The coalition along with CHANGE will be offering rides to people who cannot get to the polling sites on their own.

One-Stop Voting is offered to any registered voters who wish to vote before Election Day. Registered voters can vote at any of the seven One-Stop locations regardless of where they live.

Sutton hopes many seniors will take advantage of the free rides the coalition is offering to One-Stop sites so they won't have to brave the long lines that are expected on Election Day.

"A lot of seniors are wanting to vote early. But we're hoping the machines will not be a problem for them. We're hoping to have somebody to assist them with the computers," said Sutton of the electronic voting machines being used at all of the One-Stop sites. She remains skeptical about whether the controversial e-voting machines will function properly.

"We're frustrated with the whole thing. It just seems like the system isn't getting any better. It's just getting worse, it seems like," Sutton said. "We just want to encourage people to go (vote)."

Albert Porter witnessed an e-voting machine flub firsthand on Oct. 12 when the Board of Elections conducted a demonstration on one of the early voting machines. Porter, who is the precinct chair for the Leap Academy at Kennedy Learning Center poll site, says his sample ballot was not tallied correctly on the voting machine during the demonstration. He doesn't think the Board of Elections publicized the demonstration well enough because he was the only person present for it.

"It was a preview of how the (e-voting) machine would work," said Porter, who also plans to drive elderly voters to the polls early. "When it came out to do the tally of my vote, it didn't add right....I don't like it at all. Our strategy is to vote as early as we can....A lot of people are going to be apprehensive about using the computer (to vote)."

But Kathie Chastain Cooper, director of elections, says the voting machine test went off without a hitch.

"It did read right. Everything balanced. The only problem that we had was the person who tallied it on paper made a mistake. So the machine counted it perfect. (The problem) was when we tallied it by hand," said Cooper, who says problems with batteries dying on computers at early voting polls have already been resolved.

Several voting sites in Florida have already reported glitches with electronic voting machines used for early voting. Pages were reported missing from absentee ballots, computers malfunctioned and crashed at polls, disrupting voters in the booths.

More than 30 members of the Alumni chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority along with several other Greek organizations and the LINKS cast their votes early at the Anderson Center One-Stop site on Tuesday evening. Virginia Newell, who is a member of AKA, says she was not deterred from casting her votes on an e-voting machine despite reports of flawed machines around the country.

"We felt that we could avoid the big lines on (Nov. 2), and of course people are having problems coming in (on Election Day)," said Newell. "I did ask for help at the end, but (e-voting) is very easy. It is nonthreatening."

Newell also encouraged a student from Winston-Salem State University to vote whom she met outside the Anderson Center. She says the students mentioned her plans not to vote in this election, but Newell stressed the importance of young people participating in the democratic process.

The AKAs will drive voters to the polls on Election Day, says Newell, following a breakfast at Ivy Arms at 6 a.m.

One-Stop voting will be conducted at the Forsyth County Board of Elections office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 29 and on Saturday (Oct. 30 only) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. One-Stop voting will be conducted at six other satellite locations - Carver School Road Library, Clemmons Library, Kernersville Library, Malloy/Jordan East Winston Heritage Center, Reynolda Manor Library and the WSSU Anderson Center - through Oct. 30 on this schedule: Monday through Wednesday from 1 to 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturday (Oct. 30 only) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A current and valid ID is required. For more information, call 703-2800 or visit www.co.forsyth.nc.us/elections.

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