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Early Hampstead incorporation voters running into problems

The incorporation of Hampstead is a hot topic in Pender County and on the November 6 ballot. However, some early voters are running into problems when it comes to voting on the issue. There are roughly 15,000 people in Hampstead, but only about 7,000 live within the proposed town limits. The confusion at the polls is who gets to vote on the issue of incorporation. A computer database lets poll workers know if a voter's address is within the Hampstead footprint. But some residents who are positive they live within that footprint are being given ballots without an option to vote on incorporation. Pender County Board of Elections Director Dennis Boyles says some of the cases are simply people not knowing Hampstead's boundaries. He says there's also the possibility of human error when addresses were entered into the database. The affected voters now have to fill out provisional ballots. Hampstead resident Charles Stewart said, "It's kind of a pain in the neck because it would have been real quick in and out except for having to sit down and fill out all this paper work." The board of elections will review all of the provisional ballots to determine if the voters actually live within the proposed town limits. Boyles says he understands voters' confusion because the boundaries were changed about four times in the course of a month before a final decision was made.

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