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Gov. Jim Hunt urges an extension of early voting hours

Former Gov. Jim Hunt, a Democrat, had urged the North Carolina State Board of Elections to extend the close of early voting from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. People still in line when early voting closed were still allowed to cast a ballot.

“Because of the large crowds of people who are coming to vote early today, I am calling on the North Carolina Board of Elections to give county boards of elections the discretion to extend the early voting deadline from 1pm to 5pm, as they did in 2008,” Hunt said in a statement released by the N.C. Democratic Party.

“It is the most fundamental of American principals that all of us, regardless of what we look like, where we are from, who we love, or who we are, every citizen of our country has a sacred right to vote. After the reprehensible actions of the North Carolina Republican Party to deprive people – especially in predominantly African-American neighborhoods – of early voting sites during the first week of early voting, when it was clear that voter turnout in this election would be unprecedented, it is imperative that the state board of elections does the right thing and repeats their 2008 extension of early voting hours to 5pm today. To do otherwise would contradict North Carolina’s history and our values.”

About 30 minutes before early voting closed, U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, D-Charlotte, announced a petition for the Board of Elections to extend early voting hours.

“North Carolina has already broken early voting records, but if someone can’t vote today, they miss their last chance to register and vote same day,” she wrote.

In a news release Saturday afternoon, the State Board of Elections didn’t directly address Hunt’s request. But it said more than 3 million voters had cast ballots so far – 44 percent of the state’s registered voters – and that most counties adopted early voting plans with bipartisan support.

“We are proud of the highest early voting turnout in the state’s history,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “Statewide, North Carolina had more early voting hours and more sites than ever before.”