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Early voting begins Thursday

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY ó Beginning Thursday, voters can get a head start on Rowan Countyís 2011 municipal elections.
Residents of the countyís 10 cities and towns can vote early in those races at Rowan Public Libraryís main branch at 201 W. Fisher St.
The polling place will be open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 4. The last day of early voting is Nov. 5, a Saturday, and it will be open from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Election day is Nov. 8.
This year, races in at least two municipalities ó East Spencer and Granite Quarry ó include announced write-in candidates whose names will not appear on the ballot.
To vote for a write-in candidate, voters must write the personís name on one of the blank lines and fill in the bubble beside it.
This counts as a full vote. For example, if a town board election allows three choices, voters cannot mark more than three names including write-in candidates.
County Elections Director Nancy Evans said 1,413 people voted early in the 2009 election, but that included a county-wide ballot initiative. In total, 9,819 people voted that year.
In the 2007 municipal election, just 412 people voted early out of the 5,318 who cast ballots that year.
ěItís an off year, and maybe they just donít think about the fact that thereís something they can vote on,î Evans said. ěEverybody is focusing on 2012, and they donít realize thereís anything in 2011.î
Voter turnout in municipal elections has decreased from 23 percent in 2003 to 17.16 percent in 2005 and 15 percent in 2007, she said.
ěIíd encourage people to come out and vote for their local municipal candidates,î Evans said. ěIt is important. Theyíre the ones that have more impact on them here at home, so they need to get out and vote.î
Now that the registration deadline has passed, those wishing to register and vote may appear in person at a one-stop absentee voting site and complete the voter registration application form. They must provide proof of residence by presenting valid documents showing current name and address.
The deadline for applying for an absentee ballot to be mailed is 5 p.m. on Nov. 1. Absentee ballot applications are available at the Board of Elections Office. An immediate relative may apply for a ballot to be sent to a voter who is out of town, such as a college student, or for a voter who is confined to the home and cannot get to the polls on Election Day.
For more information about registration, mail-in forms, early voting, absentee ballots or other election matters, call the Rowan County elections office at 704-216-8140 or visit www.rowancountync.gov/elections

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