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Early voting begins Thursday; here’s what local voters need to know

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — Early voting begins Thursday, and this year Rowan County residents have 17 full days to cast an early vote with no excuse needed.

Early voting times are from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 17, Oct. 24 and Oct. 31. For the first time, voters can cast their ballots on two Sundays — Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 — from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Rowan County residents can visit the following locations for no-excuse, early voting:

• Rowan County Board of Elections (West End Plaza), located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. W, Suite D-10
• Cleveland Town Hall, located at 302 East Main St. in Cleveland
• Spencer Municipal Building meeting room, located at 600 South Salisbury Ave. in Spencer
• Rockwell American Legion, located at 8580 U.S. 52 E. in Rockwell
• South Branch, Rowan Public Library, located at 920 Kimball Rd. in China Grove

Early voting will end at all locations on Oct. 31. Election Day is Nov. 3.

In addition to the U.S. presidential race, there are 30 other races in which locals can cast a vote. Other federal races for Rowan Countians include the U.S. Senate — where incumbent Thom Tillis, a Republican, is being challenged by Democrat Cal Cunningham — as well as the 13th Congressional District, where incumbent Ted Budd, a Republican, is being challenged by Democratic candidate Scott Huffman.

Also on the ballot are more than a dozen state races, ranging from governor to N.C. House and Senators. Incumbent Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, is being challenged by current Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a Republican in the gubernatorial race.

Other statewide races include:

• Lieutenant governor — Republican Mark Robinson and Democrat Yvonne Lewis Holley
• Attorney general — Democrat incumbent Josh Stein, who is being challenged by Republican James “Jim” O’Neill
• Auditor — Democrat incumbent Beth Wood is being challenged by Republican Anthony “Tony” Wayne Street
• Commissioner of agriculture — Republican incumbent Steve Troxler is being challenged by Democrat Jenna Wadsworth
• Commissioner of labor — Republican incumbent Josh Dobson is being challenged by Democrat Jessica Holmes
• Commissioner of insurance — Republican incumbent Mike Causey is being challenged by Democrat Wayne Goodwin
• Secretary of state — Democrat incumbent Elaine Marshall is being challenged by Republican E. C. Sykes
• Superintendent of public instruction — Democrat Jen Mangrum and Republican Catherine Truitt
• Treasurer — Republican incumbent Dale Folwell is being challenged by Democrat Ronnie Chatterji

State races specific to Rowan County voters include state House District 76 and 77 as well as state Senate District 33. Depending on where voters live, they will either vote in the 76th, 77th or 67th House district.

In the 67th, Rep. Wayne Sasser is running unopposed. Republican incumbent Harry Warren is being challenged by Salisbury Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins, a Democrat, in the District 76 race. Republican incumbent Julia Howard is being challenged by Keith Townsend, a Democrat from Mount Ulla, for District 77, which comprises Rowan and Davie counties. Sen. Carl Ford, a Republican, is being challenged by Tarsha Ellis, a local Democrat, for Senate District 33, which includes Rowan and Stanly counties.

Numerous judicial races will be on the 2020 ballot for voters, including three vacancies for eight-year terms on the North Carolina Supreme Court:

• N.C. Supreme Court chief justice, seat No. 1 — Democrat incumbent Cheri Beasley is being challenged by Republican Paul Newby
• N.C. Supreme Court associate justice, seat No. 2 — Republican Phil Berger is being challenged by Democrat Lucy Inman
• N.C. Supreme Court associate justice, seat No. 4 — Democrat incumbent Mark Davis is being challenged by Republican Tamara Barringer

Additionally, there are five races for eight-year terms on the N.C. Court of Appeals:

• N.C. Court of Appeals judge seat No. 4 — Democrat Tricia Shields and Republican April Wood
• N.C. Court of Appeals Judge seat No. 5 — Republican Willie “Fred” Gore and Democrat Lora Christine Cubbage
• N.C. Court of Appeals Judge seat No. 6 — Republican Robert “Chris” Dillon and Democrat Matthew “Gray” Styers
• N.C. Court of Appeals Judge seat No. 7 — Democrat Reuben F. Young and Republican Jeff Carpenter
• N.C. Court of Appeals Judge seat No. 13 — Democrat Chris Brook and Republican Jefferson G. Griffin

Only one candidate, incumbent Roy “Marshall” Bickett, is running for District 19C judge this year. The district covers Rowan county.

Other races specific to Rowan County include the board of commissioners, which has two vacancies and two Republican incumbents running for re-election — Craig Pierce and Mike Caskey. The two commissioners do not face competition in November. Voters will also have their say in the nonpartisan Rowan Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor position, which only has one candidate, incumbent Bruce Miller.

Additionally, five locals will appear on ballots for three available seats on the nonpartisan Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education. Those candidates include:

• RSS Board of Education seat 3 (East) — Kathy McDuffie Sanborn of Salisbury and Brian Hightower of Granite Quarry
• RSS Board of Education seat 5 (Salisbury) — Incumbent Alicia Byrd-Clark, and Jonathan Stuart Barbee
• RSS Board of Education seat 7 (Southeast) — Jennifer Studer and incumbent Susan Cox, who has since conceded the race and endorsed her opponent.

Though Friday marked the deadline to register to vote, North Carolina allows same-day voter registration at any one-stop early voting location, but not on Election Day. Those wishing to register must appear at an early voting site in-person, and provide proof of residence with documents showing the voter’s current name and address.

Absentee ballots were first sent out on Sept. 4, but they can still be officially requested until 5 p.m. on Oct. 27. Though, election officials recommend requesting them earlier than the deadline in case there are delays in the mail. Absentee ballot request forms can be obtained at the Rowan County Board of Elections office, by visiting rowancountync.gov/Elections or via the state’s Board of Elections website at ncsbe.gov.

As of Friday, the state Board of Election reports 7.24 million registered voters, 1.27 million absentee ballot requests and 464,921 absentee ballots cast.

Additionally, the state Board of Elections has launched a free online tool used to track the status of absentee ballots cast. The tool is called BallotTrax and can be accessed on the state’s Board of Elections website.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.



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