Political Notebook: Rowan Board of Elections sends out thousands of absentee ballots on first day
By Natalie Anderson
SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Elections mailed nearly 3,000 absentee ballots on Friday, about half of all the absentee ballots requested before the Labor Day weekend.
Friday was the first day the county could begin sending out the nearly 6,100 absentee ballots that have been requested. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5 p.m. on Oct. 27. Locals can request absentee ballots by downloading a ballot request from rowancountync.gov/elections, asking for the form via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or from the state Board of Elections portal at ncsbe.gov.
Additionally, numerous third-party organizations and political advocacy groups not associated with the state or Rowan County Board of Elections have mailed absentee ballot requests to local residents. Rowan County Board of Elections Executive Director Brenda McCubbins has previously said the flood of mail is normal ahead of a major election, and the forms can, for the most part, be trusted as valid. But a red flag, for example, includes any form pre-filled that includes any information.
After completing the request form, it can be returned to the Board of Elections via fax, email, mail or in-person.
McCubbins said a team of about seven elections officials have been working diligently to label, stamp and separate stacks of absentee ballots by precinct. On Friday, a local postal carrier collected five or six “tubs” of ballots. Military and overseas ballots, which totals about 72, were included in that batch. Some military and overseas ballots can be emailed to recipients, she said.
Absentee ballots can be returned by mail, FedEx or UPS, in-person at the county board of elections office or in-person at an early voting site. Early voting in Rowan County begins Oct. 15 and lasts until Oct. 31.
Union endorse Heggins for state House race
Members of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, which includes some Rowan County-area unions, have endorsed Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins in her bid to represent District 76 in the N.C. House.
The organization said in a news release last week that the vote to endorse Heggins was made after reviewing completed questionnaires and interviews with candidates.
“Al understands what working people want — to secure a fair return on our work, provide for ourselves and our families and enjoy life,” said Tim Rory, president of the Southern Piedmont Central Labor Council. Rory is also a member of the postal workers’ union.
Heggins, a Democrat, is running to unseat Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican who has served in the state House for a decade now.
“When we take care of workers, we take care of their families; and I promise to stand with workers and their families every step of the way,” Heggins said in a news release.
North Carolina Troopers Association endorses Tillis for re-election to U.S. Senate
The North Carolina Troopers Association on Wednesday endorsed U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis for re-election to the U.S. Senate.
Retired Sgt. Daniel Jenkins Jr., president of the N.C. Troopers Association, said in a statement that Tillis has been a champion for law enforcement during his time in the Senate.
U.S. Senate-hopeful Cal Cunningham, a Democrat, is vying for Tillis’ seat in the Senate. Jenkins said Cunningham “wants to make it easier to sue police officers and weaken their ability to do their jobs.”
“The brave men and women of our state’s law enforcement put their lives on the line every day and during a time when their jobs are under attack, they still courageously answer the call of duty,” Tillis said in a statement. “I am grateful for all that our law enforcement does to protect our communities. As long as I am in the Senate, I will work to provide them with the best possible resources so that they can protect North Carolinians.”
State candidates to begin series of debates on Sept. 8
As North Carolinians begin to receive absentee ballots, here are the dates for upcoming debates among local, state and presidential candidates:
• Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m. — Senate Town Hall, hosted by North Carolina’s Poor People’s Campaign
U.S. Senate hopeful Cal Cunningham, a Democrat, has agreed to this debate, but Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican, has not yet agreed to debate Cunningham, according to a news release from the Poor People’s Campaign. Viewers can tune in to the debate by visiting https://www.facebook.com/PPCNC or the NC Poor People’s Campaign website.
• Sept. 9, 7 p.m. — Candidate Forum on Agriculture and Food, hosted by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Feeding the Carolinas, the North Carolina Alliance for Health, MomsRising, the North Carolina Rural Center and Rural Advancement Foundation International
Statewide candidates will discuss where they stand on issues related to food, health and farming in North Carolina. Candidates will include Yvonne Holley, a Democrat running for the lieutenant governor office; Rep. Josh Dobson, R-85, and Jessica Holmes, a Democrat, both of whom are running for labor commissioner; N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, a Republican, and his challenger, Jennifer Wadsworth, a Democrat; as well as Catherine Truitt, a Republican, along with Jen Mangrum, a Democrat, both of whom are vying for the superintendent of public instruction.
The debate will be held virtually on Zoom. Registration for the debate can be completed at bit.ly/FarmFoodHunger.
• Sept. 14 — Tillis, Cunningham debate hosted by WRAL
The debate between U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham will be broadcast on WRAL-TV and WRAL.com. A time for the debate has yet to be determined.
• Sept. 22, 7 p.m. — Tillis, Cunningham debate, hosted by NexStar
The debate between Tillis and Cunningham will be telecast throughout the state.
• Oct. 1 — Tillis, Cunningham debate hosted by Spectrum News (time not yet determined)
• Oct. 13, 6 p.m. — Candidate forum hosted by the Rowan Chamber of Commerce, Salisbury Post, WSAT and Catawba College
Local candidates vying for state House and Senate races will meet at the Norvell Theatre, located at 135 E. Fisher St., for a forum moderated by Dari Caldwell, former president and CEO of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center. It will be broadcast live on local stations.
Candidates at the forum will include Rep. Harry Warren, R-76, and his opponent, Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins, a Democrat; Rep. Julia Howard, R-77, and her Democratic challenger Keith Townsend; Sen. Carl Ford, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger and political newcomer Tarsha Ellis; and Rep. Wayne Sasser, a Republican who’s running unopposed to represent District 67, which has been redrawn to include part of Rowan County.
Additionally, debates between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are scheduled for Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. All are scheduled for 9 p.m.
U.S. vice presidential candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris are scheduled debate on Oct. 7 are 9 p.m.
Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.
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