Lots of people are voting early, and that means traffic has become an issue around some early voting sites.
During Tuesday’s Wake County Board of Elections meeting, election volunteers asked that something be done to help direct traffic.
Bernice Perry, a resident of Raleigh since 1961, said she has volunteered for every election since then. She said she thinks traffic safety is especially an issue at Chavis Park.
While she said there are occasionally people able to direct traffic, there is no one specifically assigned to do so.
“It’s important to vote, but it’s also important to keep our people safe,” she said.
Charles Rodman, another volunteer present at the meeting, echoed Perry’s concerns. He pointed out the specific difficulties in assisting curbside voters, who are often disabled and have no option but to pull right into the busy parking lot.[media-credit name=”Photo by Raleigh Public Record” align=”alignright” width=”255″][/media-credit]
Aida Doss Havel, chair of the Wake County Board of Elections, said she had already contacted Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen to see what the city could do to help with traffic.
Previously, the board of elections had used a staffing agency rather than police officers.
In addition to Chavis, traffic problems were cited at Optimist Park Community Center and Elevation Baptist Church.
According to Havel, Allen wrote in an email that because Elevation Baptist Church is not a city site, the city is unable to provide additional help there.
He also said he voted at Chavis Park at 1 p.m. Monday and saw no issues at that time. He did, however, hire staff to help out at Optimist Park Wednesday, Oct. 24.
“It’s not exactly what I would like, but it’s something,” Havel said.
According to Havel, she visited Chavis Park a couple of hours after Allen on Monday, and witnessed the problems. She said she spoke with the site manager, who indicated that help with traffic would be very much appreciated.
Board member Kristi Tally asked whether there were any options for volunteers or support that could be put in place to ensure voters were safe, but Poucher said she would want to run that through the county attorney before giving it the go ahead.
“Any traffic control we have ever used and people we have ever used were through an agency,” Poucher said. “And the reason we go through an agency is to not be held liable.
Poucher said she plans to check with the county attorney in order to evaluate traffic control options available to the board without getting more help from the police department. Meanwhile, Havel will continue to follow up with Allen.
“Whether it’s budgeted or not, we are responsible for making sure voters are safe getting in and out of polling places,” Tally said.