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Early voting kicks off Thursday

Rowan County voters who registered by April 11 will have their first opportunity to hit the polls this week with the start of one-stop no excuse voting.

Early voting will begin Thursday at the headquarters of the Rowan County Public Library, and on Friday at a couple more locations in the county.

In the 2010 elections, 2,641 people turned out to cast ballots during early voting, said Laura Russell, elections specialist for Rowan County.

Russell said 5,944 came out to the polls during early voting in 2012, due to the year’s presidential race.

“Early voting is a convenient way for people to vote on their own time schedule,” Russell said. “Address changes and name changes can be made. However, there will be no same-day registration or party changes allowed.”

This year, voters will be asked whether they have an appropriate form of identification, but an I.D. is not yet required.

“(It’s) for the law that takes effect Jan. 1, 2016, but they will not have to show it to us,” Russell said.

There also are fewer days when early voting will take place compared to past elections, but Russell said the overall number of hours the polls are open is the same as in 2010.

No one-stop voting will take place at the Rowan County Board of Elections office this year.

Starting Thursday, the library headquarters at 201 W. Fisher St. will have early voting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and operate on the same hours Saturday. On the last day of early voting, May 3, the headquarters will welcome voters from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Other one-stop voting sites that will be open include the South Branch of Rowan Public Library, 920 Kimball Road, China Grove, and Rockwell American Legion Building, 8580 US HWY 52, Rockwell.

The South Branch Library site will be open from Friday to May 2. Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as on Saturday, early voting at the location will be closed April 27.

The early voting hours at Rockwell American Legion Building are the same as South Library.

If needed, a second primary will be held on June 24, or July 15 for federal offices.

Election officials said the south and east one-stop sites will not be open if a second primary is scheduled.

The polling places for Rockwell and West Ward II have been changed.

Rockwell voters now will be going to the Rockwell American Legion Building mentioned above. West Ward II voters will go to the fellowship hall at Maupin Avenue Presbyterian Church.

“We changed Rockwell because the town requested we use the new facility, and the (board of elections) agreed,” Russell said. “It is a larger building with more parking, so it should be a better location for voters.”

For more information, call the elections office at 704-216-8140.

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Local elections officials reported 23,821 unaffiliated voters in Rowan County this year — 562 of which changed over from other parties since Jan. 1.

Unaffiliated voters will be offered a choice between the Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Non-Partisan ballots when they go to the polls.

“The voter would choose which one they want to vote,” Russell said. “If there happens to be a second primary, they would have to stay with the same party they chose in the (first) primary.”

Those unaffiliated voters do not have to switch to any party following the primary in order to vote in the general election this fall.

“Everyone is on the same ballot in November, so party affiliation does not matter,” Russell said. “The only time the party plays a role is in the primary where you have to vote the party you are registered as – with the exception of unaffiliated.”

Unaffiliated voters can switch back to party affiliation if they want following the primary, but Russell said it isn’t necessary.

<URL destination=”http://www.rowancountync.gov/Portals/0/Government/Departments/Elections/documents/SAMPLE%20BALLOTb-w.pdf”>http://www.rowancountync.gov/Portals/0/Government/Departments/Elections/documents/SAMPLE%20BALLOTb-w.pdf

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