The Guilford County Board of Elections is requesting the assistance of the Greensboro Department of Transportation to illuminate two polling places on the east side of Greensboro affected by a power outage.
The G04 and G05 polling places, at Genesis Baptist Church and Peeler Recreation Center respectively, lost power around 1 p.m. The outage also resulted in traffic lights going out, including the intersection of Bessemer Avenue and North English Street.
Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said there has been no interruption of service at the two polling places. The voting machines run on batteries and Collicutt said election workers are using flashlights to look at poll books.
Election workers a Peeler Recreation Center checked in voters by lantern light. Volunteers assisted elderly people navigating the darkened sidewalk leading into the polling place. The lanterns inside provided patches of light in otherwise darkened space.
Collicutt said Duke Power has indicated they won’t be able to restore power until later this evening, and his primary concern is that as it gets dark, with a heavy fog, blanketing the area, voters won’t be able to find the polling places.
Collicutt said he’s asked the Greensboro Department of Transportation to place lights around the perimeter of the parking lots at Genesis Baptist Church and Peeler Recreation Center, so voters can safely park and walk into the polling places.
“I need voters to know the polling places are accessible and open,” he said.
While transportation staff is helping illuminate the parking lot, the streets around the polling places were still darkened. Police officers directed traffic at several intersections in the area. One officer directing traffic at Sykes and Wendover said he almost got hit by vehicles four times.
Before the transportation department agreed to take responsibility for lighting, Collicutt had asked the police to handle the task, although he was sensitive to the possibility that their presence in the area might be considered intimidating to some voters.
African Americans make up 83.5 percent of registered voters in G04, whose polling place is located at Genesis Baptist Church, and 93.0 percent of registered voters in G05, the precinct served by Peeler Recreation Center. Voters will choose between Goldie Wells and Jim Kee to represent District 2, as well as candidates for mayor and three at-large seats. The lighting challenges and any traffic impediments could potentially put a dent in the vote for Diane Moffett, an African-American candidate for mayor, along with Yvonne Johnson and Dianne Bellamy-Small, two African-American candidates for at-large seats.
Like all other polling places, Genesis Baptist Church and Peeler Recreation Center will remain open for voting until 7:30 p.m.
Jennifer Thompson contributed reporting for this story.