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Election director says 25,000 might vote early in Rowan

By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
Joyce Blackwell strolled into the Rowan County Public Library shortly before noon Tuesday.
In less than 10 minutes, she exited, her early voting mission accomplished.
And Blackwell said her stop could have been even more brief.
“I’ve been in there running my mouth with someone,” Blackwell said, laughing as she spoke.
The library’s headquarters on West Fisher Street is one of five sites in Rowan County where early voting is taking place. Blackwell said Tuesday’s stop marked the first time she’d ever taken advantage of early voting.
“I just wanted to try it,” she said, “to see how it’d go.”
The experience was “pretty good,” she said.
Across Rowan County ó as well as the rest of the state and nation ó more and more voters are taking advantage of early voting in what promises to be a year of big turnouts.
Nancy Evans, director of the Rowan County Board of Elections, said almost 6,000 voters had participated in early voting by Tuesday afternoon, and she wouldn’t be surprised if 25,000 of the county’s 90,000 registered voters eventually take advantage of early voting, which ends Nov. 1.
Nationwide, officials have estimated 30 percent of voters will do likewise.
“That’ll help the precinct officials on election day,” Evans said. “The more we have vote ahead of time, the fewer we’ll have waiting in line that day.”
Lines for early voting haven’t been unreasonable thus far. There’s been a bit of a wait at the Board of Elections Office in the County Administration Building, but at the county’s four outlying polling sites, most voters have breezed in and out.
Even when a backup of a few minutes develops, Evans has cautioned her workers not to let the backlog get their goats.
“You wait at the bank, you wait at the grocery store,” Evans said. “I told my workers, ‘You’re processing their information. That’s what you have to do. It takes a little time.’ ”
Evans said more Democrats than Republicans have taken advantage of early voting, but more absentee ballots have been mailed to Republicans.
“It’s going to balance each other out,” Evans said.
Meanwhile, over at the Rowan Library, Pete Prunkl volunteered his services Tuesday to the Democratic Party, handing out flyers listing the party’s candidates.
“It’s been steady,” Prunkl said of voter turnout.
He said Democratic volunteers give 21/2 hours of their time to distribute the flyers.
Prunkl said most people thank him and politely accept a flyer. But a handful, he said, aren’t so cordial.
Moments later, a middle-aged couple fairly brushed by Prunkl as he offered them a flyer, all but ignoring him.
“You have to develop a thick skin,” Prunkl said, chuckling.
Hours, dates and locations for early voting in Rowan County are as follows:
– The Rowan County Board of Elections Office in the County Administration Building at 130 W. Innes St. Early voting will be available there weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 16-Oct. 31, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 1.
– The East Branch of the Rowan County Public Library, 110 Broad St., Rockwell. Voting will take place weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 17-Oct. 31.
– The South Branch of the Rowan County Public Library, 920 Kimball Road, China Grove. Voting will take place weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 17-Oct. 31.
– Cleveland Town Hall, 302 E. Main St., Cleveland. Voting will take place weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Oct. 20-Oct. 31.
– Headquarters of the Rowan County Public Library, 201 W. Fisher St. Voting will take place weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 20-Oct. 31, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 1.

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