Triad voters head out as early voting begins in North Carolina

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Today is the first day of one-stop early voting across North Carolina.

You can change your address, register to vote and vote all at the same time at polling places set up for the next 16 days before Election Day on Nov. 3. 

Voters in Randolph County started lining up at the Randolph County Board of Elections Building, which is the largest early voting site in the county, before the sun was up. 

FOX8’s Lindsay Tuman spoke with the woman who was first in line to cast her ballot. She called this the most important election she has taken part in.

“It’s just an extremely important time in our country and I think everyone needs to come out and vote and at least show who they support,” Roberta Hood said. 

This year, Randolph County Board of Elections Director Melissa Johnson says voters are particularly interested in early voting and mail-in voting. This year brought the largest amount of absentee ballots they’ve seen. 

So far, the board of elections has mailed out more than 10,000 ballots. Usually they average around 3,000 during a presidential election. 

Staff has received around 3,500 of them so far.

The elections director says about half of people vote during early voting but she says she isn’t sure if the influx of mail-in ballots will help ease crowds during early voting or just on election day. 

They are ready to deal with the crowds with masks, plenty of hand sanitizer and other protective measures. 

 “We’re taking every precaution that we can,” Johnson said. “We’re going to have markings for social distancing, so we’re taking every precaution that we can so people are as safe as possible.”

Inside, poll workers are equipped with face shields, masks, and gloves to protect themselves and the voters. Keeping poll workers safe and healthy has been a priority for the Board of Elections.

“Every county in the state is going through the same thing,” Johnson said. “There’s been a real need for poll workers. Poll workers are mostly over 60 years old, so we’ve had to do a lot of recruitment. That’s been really difficult. We’re hoping we can get some bonus pay for our poll workers because they are putting themselves in a hazardous situation.”

There are extra precautions for the voters inside as well.

“We’re going to offer a mask for every voter,” Johnson said. “We’re going to offer or give an ink pen to ever y voter so they can take that with them, so they’ll take that into the voting booth with them. After every voter leaves we’re going to sanitize the voting booth so it’s as safe as possible.”

Voters who waited with chairs and cups of coffee in hand say safety in light of COVID-19 was one of the reasons they wanted line up early. 

“We wanted to get here early to go ahead and get early, to beat the length of the line, and with Covid,” Jane and Bill Drummond said.

If you want to vote early, you have until 3 p.m. Oct. 31.

You can vote from 8 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. You have from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. 

You can request mail-in ballots through Oct. 27 but you want to send them in as early as possible. 

You can also return your completed absentee ballot to any early voting site in your county.

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