Early Voting begins Thursday; turnout likely to be high
Early voting is quickly approaching.
Beginning Thursday and running through Halloween, voters will have 17 days to cast early ballots to make their voices heard.
Early voting times are from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday from Oct. 15 through Oct. 30, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 31.
Stanly County residents can visit the following locations for early voting:
- Stanly County Commons, DSS Auditorium, at 1000 N. 1st St. in Albemarle;
- Joel Huneycutt Community Room, located at 186 Ray Kennedy Dr. in Locust;
- Norwood Community Building, at 247 W. Turner St. in Norwood; or
- New London Fire Department, at 310 S. Main St. in New London.
And with so many people already energized about the upcoming election, turnout during the two-week period will likely be high.
“I feel like this time we will have a large participation in early voting due to people being excited about the process,” said Kimberly Blackwelder, director of elections for Stanly County.
She noted that due to this year being a presidential election and with all of the uncertainty caused by the COVID pandemic, more people likely will want to vote early than in past years.
There have also been an unprecedented number of absentee by-mail ballots requested and sent to voters this year. Blackwelder said that more than 4,000 mail-in ballots have already been delivered to voters — a significant increase from the roughly 900 ballots that were mailed to voters in 2016. People have until Oct. 27 to request by-mail ballots. The ballots must be returned to the Board of Elections by 5 p.m. on Election Day or postmarked by Election Day and received no later than three business days after Election Day.
While precinct officials have already been selected and trained for the early voting period, there are numerous vacancies for precincts for Election Day on Nov. 3. Blackwelder said people interested in helping on Election Day can sign up on the Board of Elections website.
Even though the presidential race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joseph Biden seems to receive the lionshare of media attention, there are many critical federal races in the state. For Stanly County residents, they include the U.S. Senate, where Republican incumbent Thom Tillis is running against Democrat candidate Cal Cunningham, and the 8th Congressional District, where four-term Republican incumbent Richard Hudson is being challenged by Democrat candidate Patricia Timmons-Goodson.
Aside from the governor’s race — pitting incumbent Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, against Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, other statewide contests include:
- Lieutenant governor — Republican Mark Robinson and Democrat Yvonne Lewis Holley;
- Attorney general — Democrat incumbent Josh Stein is being challenged by Republican Jim O’Neil;
- Auditor — Democrat incumbent Beth Wood is being challenged by Republican Anthony “Tony” Wayne Street;
- Commissioner of agriculture — Republican incumbent Steve Troxler is being challenged by Democrat Jenna Wadsworth;
- Commissioner of labor — Republican incumbent Josh Dobson is being challenged by Democrat Jessica Holmes;
- Commissioner of insurance — Republican incumbent Mike Causey is being challenged by Democrat Wayne Goodwin;
- Secretary of state — Democrat incumbent Elaine Marshall is being challenged by Republican E. C. Sykes;
- Superintendent of public instruction — Democrat Jen Mangrum and Republican Catherine Truitt; and
- Treasurer — Republican incumbent Dale Folwell is being challenged by Democrat Ronnie Chatterji.
For Stanly-specific state races, Republican incumbent Carl Ford is being challenged by Democrat Tarsha Ellis for NC State Senate District 33, Democrat incumbent Scott Brewer is being challenged by Republican Ben Moss for NC House District 66 and Republican incumbent Wayne Sasser is running unopposed for the NC House District 67.
There are also a number of county elections that will decide the makeup of the school board and the county commissioners. While many candidates are running unopposed, there are a few competitive races.
- Board of Commissioners District 5 — Republican Peter Asciutto and Eric Johnsen, who is unaffiliated; and
- Board of Education District 5 — Republican Carla Poplin and Elizabeth Harrison.
There are some municipal elections featuring candidates running unopposed. But there are also many competitive municipal elections. They include:
- Albemarle City Council, where voters can choose two candidates — Chris Bramlett, Benton Dry, Martha Sue Hall, Tim “TJ” Morgan, Matt Tracy;
- Locust City Council, where voters can choose four candidates — Larry Baucom, Rusty Efird, Harry Fletcher, Ted Michael “Mike” Haigler, Barry Sims;
- Norwood Mayor — Harold Thompson and Linda Campbell;
- Norwood Town Council, where voters can choose two candidates — Robbie Cohen, Darryl “PorkChop” Gerald, Tracy Lee Harris, Wes Hartsell, James Lilly;
- Oakboro Board of Commissioners, where voters can choose two candidates — Lanny Hathcock, Chris Huneycutt, Latoya Jackson, Jesse Lewis;
- New London Board of Commissioners, where voters can choose three candidates — Johnny Chestnut, Jr., Richard Kimmer, Bill Peak, Daniel Phillips;
- Richfield Board of Commissioners, where voters can choose three candidates — Terry Almond, Scott Bradley, Barry Byrd, Christy NeCaise, Jay Patel.