Between new laws and anti-coronavirus isolation, Northumberland County needed a new registrar’s office. The current office, in the basement of a wing of the old courthouse is closed to the public as a precaution against the virus and is too small to accommodate the large number of early voters expected before the November election.
To remedy the situation, on April 23 the Board of Supervisors agreed to a deal the Electoral Board had made with Charlotte Hundley to rent her late husband, Dr. Jim Hundley’s, veterinarian’s office at 45 Back Street in Heathsvlle.
Electoral Board secretary Joe Schlatter explained Saturday that the former veterinarian’s office has a back porch that will be fixed up for people who come to apply for absentee ballots. “They will ring for service and the applications will be taken out to them,” he said.
The law regarding absentee ballots and early voting won’t change before the coming June 23 Republican and Democratic primaries, but it will for the fall national election. The new law provides for early voting 45 days before the actual election which means voting can start in mid-September.
Schlatter said 39 other states have early voting laws and they have had from 15 to 20 percent of their votes cast early. That could mean that several hundred early votes will be cast in Northumberland this fall. The current registrar’s office is simply too small to accommodate such a crowd, whereas the new office will.
Early plans had been to moved the registrar’s and other county offices from the old courthouse to the EVB Bank building next to it. That building, however, requires considerable repair and maintenance before such a move can be made, Schlatter noted. The registrar’s office will stay at 45 Back Street until the bank improvements are complete which may be a considerable period.
“The Northumberland County Electoral Board appreciates Mrs. Hundley’s making available Dr. Hundley’s former veterinarian’s office for use by the Registrar of Voters,” Schlatter said. “Dr. Hundley’s former office is more than a simple white cement block building, in fact, 45 Back Street represents a half-century of service to the community by Dr. and Mrs. Hundley. The Electoral Board and Registrar of Voters are honored to be able to continue the record of service to our community by establishing the registrar’s office in this historic building. After the Registrar’s office is fully open, we will establish in the entrance area a memorial to Dr. Hundley featuring a history of the building and his veterinarian service as well as photographs from the days of Dr. Hundley’s service.”