Some people voted as early as the first weekend in September. Local elections offices began mailing out absentee ballots September 4th and by just after Labor Day, some of them had already started being returned.
You still have until October 27th to request an absentee ballot--either to be mailed to your local elections office or taken there by Election Day (Nov. 3rd). While that's still three weeks away, it is much recommended that if you plan to vote by mail, you make your request as soon as possible and likewise return your ballot right away. Some of the ballots that have not been accepted have not had proper matching voter signatures, but the most common mistakes have to do with the witness. You must have a witness to your signature and you must include the address of that person.
Absentee by mail ballots must be mailed before 5 PM on Election Day, but if you wait until close to that day, it's recommended that you take your ballot to a post office window to be date and time stamped. Ballots mailed by the deadline and received by the Friday of Election week will be counted, but ballots received after Election Day that do not have the date and time stamp to prove they were mailed before the deadline will not.
As for counting those absentee ballots, the Elections offices in Lincoln and Catawba counties confirmed that while they are not being tabulated, they are being entered weekly when the local election boards meet so that the results can be determined quickly on election night. Of course, in any close race, the results may still not be known until after any late arriving but timely mailed absentee ballots are included, but it's likely that the outcome of the election (at least locally) will be known the night of Nov. 3rd. The results do not, however, become official until the canvass of votes by the Elections Board on Friday the 13th.
As of Monday (Oct. 5th) the Lincoln County Elections Office had sent out 6,981 absentee ballots; 2559 of those had been returned. While no one knows how they voted, those who returned ballots so far include 1,067 Democrats, 693 Republicans, and 791 unaffiliated voters. Catawba County has received 4,334 absentee ballots so far. Cleveland County has sent out 6,444 absentee ballots; of those, 2,279 have been returned.
If you vote by mail, you can check to see that your ballot has been received and accepted by going to the NC State Board of Elections NCSBE Voter Lookup. That site will also tell you--if you don't know--where your voting place is located for Election Day, and if you're not certain, it will tell you if you're registered to vote. For anyone who is not registered and who plans to vote on Election Day, the deadline to register is this Friday (Oct. 9th). You can, of course, register and vote at the same time during Early Voting which begins on October 15th.
Their interviews with the two candidates for the NC House of Representatives seat from Lincoln County, Rep. Jason Saine and challenger Greg McBryde, can be see on YouTube at https://youtu.be/l86EnVZ4vWg.
ELBA also invited the four candidates for the three seats up for election on the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, but none of the Republican candidates showed up. You can hear their interview with Autumn Watson at https://youtu.be/-irbLfvjLlw.
We called all three of the GOP candidates after an East Lincoln resident called us to voice disappointment that they hadn't bothered to participate. "Do they believe they've already got it won?" he asked. "Maybe they do; Lincoln County votes over 70% Republican--but it seems like a slap in the face of East Lincoln residents not to think them important enough to deserve answers to questions posed by the East Lincoln Betterment Association. Maybe they don't think East Lincoln is that important."
Cathy Davis, who is currently chair of the Board of Education, told us that she had made plans to attend a drive-by reception for retiring Superintendent Dr. Lory Morrow. The reception was changed to Thursday, but having already made her plans not to participate, she didn't change them.
Anita McCall said she didn't want to make a statement, adding "Call Carrol!" When we told her we'd report that she said she wouldn't make a statement, she objected. We had made it clear from the start that our conversation was 'on the record,' although she made other remarks which said were 'off the record.' We are not reporting those remarks here, but we refused to allow her to tell us not to report that she refused to make a statement.
Carrol Mitchem said he attended the ELBA Candidates Forum before the Primary Election, but did not attend the one in 2016, the last time he ran, and chose not to attend this time. Mitchem said, "Every time I've been to one of the ELBA forums, I think the questions have been very one-sided."
Mitchem said he had also decided not to participate in Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce project. Like the Lincoln Herald, instead of asking questions, the Chamber is providing candidates for Lincoln County Commissioner, the Board of Education, the NC House & Senate and Congress from our district an opportunity to speak to voters. While we are allowing candidates to speak for up to five minutes, they have asked them to limit their remarks to two minutes. They'll produce a single video and post it on their website, their Facebook page and YouTube.
The Lincoln Herald has invited candidates for the NC House, County Commissioner, and School Board to produce a video of up to five minutes to say whatever they please. We'll be uploading the videos to YouTube and will post links to them in articles about the races.
Early Voting, officially known as One-Stop Voting because you can both register (if you haven't already) and vote at the same time, will begin next Thursday (Oct. 15th).
Like the mail-in ballots, Early Voting is another form of absentee voting, a term applied to all voting other than at the polls on Election Day. It will continue through Saturday October 31st (Halloween Day). This year, Lincoln County will have four early voting locations--the Board of Elections Office on Salem Church Road, the Wiliam Lentz Gym at Betty Ross Park on S. Madison Street in Lincolnton, the East Lincoln Community Center on Optimist Club Road, and the new West Lincoln Branch Library on Westwinds Road just off Shoal Road near West Lincoln High School. The western location was changed this year; it was previously at the North Brook Community Center. All of those locations will be open from 8 AM until 7:30 PM Monday-Friday and 8 AM - 6 PM on Saturday except October 31st when they'll close at 3 PM. Unlike other area counties, Lincoln County will NOT have Sunday early voting.
Cleveland County voters can vote early at the LeGrand Center on E. Marion St. (US74-business) in Shelby, Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Kings Mountain, Boiling Springs Town Hall in Boiling Springs and Palm Tree United Methodist Church in Lawndale. All sites will be open 8 AM - 7:30 PM Monday - Friday, 8 AM - 3 PM on Saturdays and 1 - 5 PM on Sundays.
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