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Cast away: First day of voting begins for municipal elections

SALISBURY — At 7 a.m. Wednesday, the polls for early voting opened and the ballot-casting officially began in the 2019 municipal elections.

In the parking lot outside the Rowan County Board of Elections Office, Salisbury City Council candidate Giannina Monzon had coffee and doughnuts. Beside her was Shawn Rush, an East Spencer alderman candidate. Both were hoping to get their names out as voters dashed inside out of the rain to cast their ballots.

Rush was the first to vote in Rowan County.

By the time the polls closed Wednesday, more than 130 people had voted. Polls will reopen at 7 a.m. today, closing at 7 p.m. One-stop voting continues on weekdays until Nov. 1. One-stop will also be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 26, a Saturday.

Monzon said she plans to be at the early-voting site every day as a commitment to talk to people. Wednesday morning was cold and rainy but turned sunny and breezy by midday. She said bearing with the weather is similar to holding office, knowing there are going to be tough days.

Rush said he came to the one-stop site to show he is present.

“We’re serious about what we have a passion to do,” Rush said. “We have a passion to serve people.”

Also working the polls were Salisbury City Council incumbents Tamara Sheffield and Mayor Al Heggins and East Spencer mayoral candidate Tony Hillian, Monzon said.

One-stop voting allows voters to register and cast ballots at the same location.

Darrell Foxx was one who both registered and voted Wednesday, choosing who he wants to be on the next East Spencer board. Foxx said he was in a unique situation that caused some delays with registering. He had served in the military overseas and moved back to the U.S. recently. He needed to give some documentation that showed he lives in the area.

Foxx said he voted for the candidates he felt are “grounded with the citizens” and understand what public service is about.

He recommended others vote early, especially if they’re not sure that they are registered. People can’t register on Election Day, which is Nov. 5.

Gay and David Roberts also voted Wednesday for the next Landis mayor and two new aldermen. They were the 117th and 118th people to vote in Rowan County.

Gay said she hadn’t voted early before but recommended it after doing so. Both said they could get busy on Election Day and that it’s good to get it out of the way.

Gay said on Election Day, there are likely to be lines. David said they could also be hounded by candidates asking for their votes. And they said nothing would change their vote by Election Day.

Hillian said he was not an advocate for early voting until he ran for alderman. He called on his fellow voters to get it done when they can because “tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.”

Patricia Webb Sledge came to vote Wednesday afternoon. She is a first-time candidate for Spencer alderman.

Asked if she was going to vote for herself, the answer was, “Of course.”

She said seeing her name on the ballot was strange. Sledge said she marked her name first then filled out the rest of the ballot. 

Voting is important, Sledge said. And she was wearing a button saying, “Get involved, you live here.” If people don’t vote, then they can’t complain, she said. At the local level, elections especially matter because they choose who will make and enforce the rules.

“The right to vote is something that you should never take for granted,” Sledge said.

Richard Dillion, an election official, said the first day of early voting was smooth, with voters trickling in throughout the day. With early voting, voters don’t have to put up with the crowds, he said.

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