ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. - Both candidates in Rocky Mount's mayoral runoff on Wednesday said the lack of an early-voting location in part of town puts voters at a disadvantage.

  • Rocky Mount straddles Edgecombe and Nash counties.
  • There is an early-voting location on the Edgecombe County side of town but not on the Nash County side.
  • Voters on the Nash County side have to drive to another town to vote early.

Bronson Williams and Sandy Roberson are in a runoff to decide the next mayor. Rocky Mount straddles Nash and Edgecombe counties, so elections fall under the purview of either the Nash or Edgecombe County Board of Elections depending on what part of town you live in. When early voting began on Wednesday, Edgecombe County officials provided a polling place in town but Nash County officials did not. This forced voters on the Nash County side of town to drive to the county seat of Nashville, about 12 miles away, to cast their ballot.

Mae Parker cast her ballot early on Wednesday on the Edgecombe County side. She said proximity is a major issue for elderly voters like herself.

“There are a lot of seniors who don't have transportation. But if it's close by, you can get a ride, get your neighbor or someone to pick you up,” she said.

Roberson's campaign has filed a formal protest with the NC State Board of Elections and the Nash and Edgecombe County boards over the situation. He said the move effectively disenfranchises 70 percent of the voters in Rocky Mount. Williams called the move voter suppression and said he is considering filing a protest of his own.

Nash County election officials said they had no comment on the matter. Election officials will open an early voting location in Rocky Mount on October 24, eight days after the option became available for Edgecombe County residents.