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Early voting begins today. Here’s what voters need to know.

SALISBURY — Early voting for the 2021 municipal elections in Rowan County begins today at 8 a.m.

Votes can be cast until 7 p.m. at the Rowan County Board of Elections office. The office is located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd West.

Early voting will last until Oct. 30, providing a total of 17 days of early voting. That includes three Saturdays and two Sundays. Each weekday will allow voting between the hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Voters can cast a ballot on the three Saturdays of one-stop voting — Oct. 16, 23 and 30 — from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday voting will span from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. On Election Day, Nov. 2, voting hours will span from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at municipal precincts. Voters can check their closest voting precinct by reviewing their voter registration information.

Each one of Rowan County’s municipalities this year will have an election, but not all are competitive. More than 60 candidates have declared runs for 42 seats across the county. In Salisbury, voters will directly elect a mayor for the first time, with the option of either Mayor Karen Alexander or Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins.

In the Salisbury City Council race, candidates include challengers Rev. Anthony Smith, Jessica Cloward, Nalini Joseph, Jonathan Barbee and Harry McLaughlin Jr. as well as incumbents Tamara Sheffield and David Post. All four seats are up for grabs and have two-year terms.

The deadline to register to vote was Oct. 8, but voters can still register in-person with same-day registration.

Some voters have already cast absentee by mail ballots. The deadline to request one from the elections office is Oct. 26 at 5 p.m. Absentee by mail ballots must be submitted to the county board of elections office no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 2 if they’re being hand-delivered. If mailed, they must be postmarked by Nov. 2.

COVID-19 precautions will be in place for this year’s election, though not as stringent as protocols in place for 2020. Measures will include social distancing, individual pens provided to voters, hand sanitizer and plexiglass shields at check-in stations. Like 2020, masks are encouraged but won’t be required. All COVID-19 protocols come from recommendations from both the state board and the CDC.

Additionally, Rowan County Board of Elections Executive Director Brenda McCubbins said during a meeting Tuesday that some handicap parking spaces near the elections office will be designated for curbside voting for senior adults and those with disabilities. Curbside voters must sign an affidavit indicating they’re unable to enter the voting place to cast a ballot.

The Post will publish a comprehensive election section in print on Tuesday, which will include more information about candidates on the ballot.

Voters can check their registration and see a sample ballot at vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup.

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