Voters heading to the polls in 2014 will see a missing option when they begin casting their ballots, with no opportunity to elect a straight-party ticket for partisan seats. “There is no straight party anymore,” said Angie Harrison, deputy director for the Surry County Board of Elections. “You actually have to go down the ballot and pick the offices individually.” Voters already had to do that for any nonpartisan seats, such as school boards, municipal boards, judges and for the partisan presidential office, but in the past they had an option to select either Republican or Democrat for all other partisan seats without having to go through each office at stake one by one. This included posts for county commissioners, senators, state and federal representatives, sheriff and others. This is one of many changes being implemented during the next few years after the state Legislature passed the Voter ID law, formally known as House Bill 589, which went into effect Jan. 1.
The actual requirement to show ID at the polls will not be implemented until 2016, although DMVs already are equipped to provide free IDs to those who request them and show proper forms of eligibility such as Social Security cards.
Harrison said another change for this year will be the elimination of same-day voter registration at the one-stop early voting sites. All who wish to vote in the 2014 elections, whether early, on primary election day or Election Day, must register by the deadline, which is April 11 for the primary election on May 6 and Oct. 10 for Election Day, which is Nov. 4 this year.
And while those who cannot make it to the polls on those days still are allowed to vote as an absentee ballot, a request for those absentee ballots must be made on an official form, not a hand-written request. The official forms can be found on the Surry Board of Elections website or by calling the office at 401-8225 and requesting one.
“We are still seeking approval for our early voting hours. They will change a little bit. We had to submit a plan for the reduction (of hours) to make us like everyone across the state,” Harrison reported. “We are still having early voting at the Board of Elections and satellite sites in Elkin and Mount Airy, but they will be more uniform hours at the satellite sites.”