Community rallies to staff voting sites in Durham

On a recent Saturday afternoon, volunteer greeters at North Carolina Central University's Turner Law Building take a break after what they described as an early-afternoon rush of voting there. (Photo by Danny Hooley)

The dire prospect of a shortage among Durham’s election poll workers, for fears of contracting and spreading Covid-19, could have resulted in even longer lines than we’re seeing in early voting.

Fortunately, more than enough residents of Durham rose to perform a treasured civic duty by signing up to help voters enjoy a smooth and safe voting experience.

Casey Horvitz, the training and compliance manager at Durham County Board of Elections admits she was a bit “overwhelmed” by the large number of poll worker applications following media coverage of the potential shortage. But in a good way.

“I’m excited to have so many new people working this election and I hope they’ll come back for many years,” said Horvitz.

The unexpectantly large number of applicants ensured that the BOE was staffed to implement a Covid-19 Mitigation Plan. The elections board created a “cleanliness coordinator” position to keep voting equipment clean and safe throughout the day.

Voters are provided with single-use pens and required to wear masks for the duration of their time in the polling place. The BOE is offering curbside voting for populations who are unable to enter the polling site due to age or physical disability.

Cherie Witter, a junior at North Carolina Central University and three-time voter, said she’s taking her own safety precautions as well. She said it’s worth it to make sure her vote is counted.

“I plan on voting in person,” said Witter. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with the postal service. And [I know that] my ballot is going directly to the election. I don’t feel like this is the best time to try a new form of submitting a ballot.”

So far, Durham voters have stepped up to do their civic duty, too. WTVD reported that by Oct. 29, around 60 percent of registered voters in the county had cast ballots.

If you haven’t voted yet and would like to get it done before Election Day on Nov. 3, there’s still a little time left. Early voting ends at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31.

“We strongly encourage Durham residents to vote at one of our 14 early voting sites,” said Horvitz.

For more voting information, including options for returning absentee ballots, please visit

Palace Jones, who describes herself as an “Army brat,” is a senior at North Carolina Central University, studying mass communication with a concentration in public relations.