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Editorial: With options available, no excuse to abstain from voting in 2020

Even in the middle of a deadly, global pandemic, Rowan County voters have the widest array of options to cast a ballot as they’ve ever had. As a result, excuses for not voting are particularly slim.

Those uncomfortable visiting a polling place in person can request an absentee ballot and have it mailed to them. After voters complete a ballot in the comfort of their home and sign the envelope in the appropriate places, the finished package can be mailed to the Rowan County Board of Elections. Alternatively, voters can drop their completed ballot off at the Rowan County Board of Elections in person or with the help of a close family member like a brother, sister, spouse, in-law or guardian.

So far, 10,355 Rowan County voters have asked for absentee by mail ballots. That number includes 4,100 Democrats, 3,068 Republicans and 3,131 unaffiliated voters.

Data from the State Board of Elections says 4,114 voters have already cast absentee ballots.

Those who request absentee ballots and are nervous about putting it in the mail should ensure it’s delivered in person to the Rowan County Board of Elections at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. West in Salisbury. During the early voting period only, absentee by mail ballots can also be dropped off at a voting site.

Rowan County’s early voting period is as extensive as it has ever been, with polling places open on Saturday and Sunday in addition to weekdays. Starting on Oct. 15, there will be early voting every day until the end of the month — Oct. 31. There are early voting sites strategically placed throughout the county — from Rockwell to Cleveland and China Grove to Spencer — all of which will be open for the entire voting period. Voters can cast their ballot at a polling place that’s closest to where they work or near their home or church, as long as it’s in the same county where they live.

Because it allows people to cast a ballot at their leisure, early voting has grown increasingly popular in recent elections, with more than 38,000 people, or 41% of registered voters at the time, doing so during the 2016 presidential election.

In 2016, the final turnout on Election Day was 67.91% — a number that simultaneously means most people who voted in the 2016 general election did so during early voting and that tens of thousands who were eligible and registered to vote chose not to do so.

This year, to ensure their vote is counted, some voters feel determined to cast their ballot in person, willing to walk through fire to feed their completed ballot into the counting machine. The local and state boards of elections are putting in place good measures to make sure that’s a safe experience.

For those who want to vote in person during early voting, weekday times are 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. starting on Oct. 15. Saturday voting times are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday voting times are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Early voting locations are as follows:

• Rowan County Board of Elections, 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. West in Salisbury.

• South Rowan Public Library, 920 Kimball Road in China Grove.

• Cleveland Town Hall, 302 East Main St. in Cleveland.

• Rockwell American Legion Building, 8580 U.S. 52 in Rockwell.

• Spencer Municipal Building, 600 South Salisbury Ave. in Spencer.

Of course, there’s also Election Day — when more than 40 polling sites across the county will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Of course, every election is important. From town halls to the halls of Congress, elected officials make decisions that affect our daily lives and the way our community looks. But this year’s election is particularly critical because of the wide slate of contested races — president, U.S. Senate, governor, Congress, legislature and school board — and the different visions expressed by the candidates in them.

With the plethora of hours and options to vote, anyone who chooses not to cast a ballot in 2020 only has themselves to blame. Make a plan to vote today and, if you have questions about voting in 2020, call the Rowan County Board of Elections at 704-216-8140.

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