DOBSON — The general election is still three weeks away, on Nov. 8, but Surry County citizens can get a head start on that process with early voting starting Thursday.
Unlike other recent elections, only two early absentee/one-stop/ in-person polling locations will be operating — in Mount Airy and Dobson — based on a decision by the N.C. State Board of Elections in September. Previous sites in Pilot Mountain and Elkin were dropped due to the costs of providing that service there not being justified by the turnout.
Along with avoiding possible crowds on Election Day, the early voting cycle offers a reprieve to persons who are not registered, county Director of Elections Michella Huff pointed out Friday, when the regular registration deadline ended at 5 p.m.
“Individuals who missed the regular voter registration deadline may register and vote at the same time during the early voting period,” Huff advised. “Their only option at this point is to register in person at an early voting site.”
This process is called “same-day registration,” since the newly registered voter can immediately cast a ballot at that site.
Those unsure of their registration status can determine that through the Surry County Board of Elections website.
When checking in at an early voting station, citizens also may update their names or addresses within the county if necessary.
Same-day registrants must attest to their eligibility and provide proof of where they live, according to information provided by the elections director.
Using same-day registration requires an individual to meet all eligibility requirements for North Carolina, including:
• Being a U.S. citizen. Citizenship documents are not required to register.
• Living in the county where one is registering, including having resided there for at least 30 days before Election Day.
The federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) allows certain voters who are active-duty military or their families as well as U.S. citizens abroad special rights that provide an expedited means to register and vote by mail-in ballot.
• Being at least 18 years old, or reaching that age by the date of the general election; 16- and 17-year-olds may preregister to vote.
• Not being in jail or prison for a felony conviction.
Huff also mentioned that voters who received an absentee ballot by mail may deliver their completed ballot to an election official at an early voting site in the county.
Those ballots will be kept secure and delivered to the Surry Board of Elections for processing each night. Voters who requested an absentee ballot but have not yet returned it may vote in person during the early voting period or on Election Day.
They can discard the by-mail ballot and do not need to bring it to a polling site.
Early voting schedule
The Mount Airy early voting location is the same as usual, the Surry County Government Resource Center at 1218 State St. behind Arby’s.
In Dobson, the service will be available at the Board of Elections office at 915 E. Atkins St.
The early voting hours at both locations are 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. this Thursday and Friday and from Oct. 24-28 and Oct. 31-Nov. 4.
Only one Saturday is on the early voting schedule, Nov. 5, when the service will be offered at both locations from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Persons venturing to one-stop early voting sites are entitled to the same assistance as those at a polling place on Election Day, Huff assured.
Curbside voting is available for eligible individuals at all early voting sites and tents will provided for this.
Voters can review the choices available by accessing a sample ballot at https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/