By Tim Gardner
Like what is expected elsewhere across America, one of the largest mid-term (non-presidential year) voter turnouts ever is expected in Avery County for the 2022 General Election on Tuesday, November 8.
According to Avery Board of Elections officials, early voting final totals shattered records in the county. That is generally considered to be an indicator that large number of voters will also cast ballots on General Election Day.
Avery had 2,044 one-stop, early voting ballots cast and 180 by U.S. Mail (2,224 total) during the early voting period that began on October 20 and ran through mid-day, November 5. That is 17.6 percent of Avery’s registered voters who have already cast ballots.
According to North Carolina Board of elections data, there were 12,632 registered voters in Avery County as of November 5. That total includes: 7,252 Republicans; 1,347 Democrats; 3,975 Unaffiliated; 57 Libertarians; and 1 Green Party member.
Avery’s high early voting turnout parallels the State of North Carolina, which had large numbers of voters cast early ballots. There are 7,409,792 registered voters in the Tar Heel state (as of November 5) and more than 2 million have already voted in the 2022 General Election. The exact number is 2,148,035. A breakdown of that total includes:
One-Stop Early Voting 2,007,518
Absentee By-Mail: Civilian 134,748
Absentee By-Mail: Military 1,154
Absentee By-Mail: Overseas 4,615
Democrats led the early voting turnout and mailed-in ballots with 819,553, followed by Republicans with 673,117. Unaffiliated voters cast 649,483 early ballots. Also, 5,747 Libertarians and 135 from the Green Party have already voted.
For voters who did not vote early in Avery County, polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on November 8 at the following 19 precincts where they can cast ballots in the respective precinct in which they reside-
*Altamont — Crossnore Town Hall Annex
1 Fountain Circle, Crossnore
*Banner Elk — Banner Elk Town Hall
200 Park Avenue, Banner Elk
*Beech Mountain — Beech Mountain Elementary School
60 Flat Springs Road, Elk Park
*Carey’s Flat — New Hopewell Baptist Church
5086 Edgemont Road, Collettsville
*Cranberry — Historic Cranberry High School
5215 Elk Park Highway
*Elk Park — Avery County Rescue Squad Building
205 Ice Plant Street
*Frank — Frank Fire Department
699 North US Highway 19E
*Heaton — Heaton Christian Church
210 Curtis Creek Road
*Hughes — Chestnut Dale Baptist Church
1700 Squirrel Creek Road
*Ingalls — Green Valley Fire Hall
8062 South US Highway 19E
*Linville — Linville Fire Hall
590 NC Highway 105
*Minneapolis — Minneapolis Baptist Church Fellowship Hall
47 Minneapolis School Road
*Montezuma — Aaron Baptist Church
24 Aaron Church Lane
*Newland #1 — Morrison Library
150 Library Place
*Newland #2 — Avery County Senior Center
165 Schultz Circle
*Pineola — Land Harbor Recreation Complex
22 Land Harbor Parkway
*Plumtree — Plumtree Presbyterian Church
4527 US Highway 19-E
*Pyatte — Pyatte Community Center
141 Rogers Ridge Road
*Roaring Creek — Roaring Creek Freewill Baptist Church
1736 Roaring Creek Road
Avery County offices on the General Election ballot include County Commission, Sheriff, Clerk of Superior Court and Soil and Water District Supervisor.
Three seats are open on the Avery County Commission. Incumbents Dennis Aldridge and Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr. and first-time candidate Robert Burleson (all Republicans) are running unopposed in the General Election.
Republican Teresa Benfield is unopposed for Clerk of Superior Court. Benfield did not have to run in the May 17, 2022 Primary Election as she had no Republican opposition then.
Republican Mike Henley is also running unopposed in the General Election. He won the Primary Election. He then was appointed Interim Sheriff by the Avery County Board of Commissioners after a recommendation from the Avery Republican Party Executive Committee when Danny Phillips stepped down from the post in June. Phillips had served as Interim Sheriff following former Sheriff’s Kevin Frye’s retirement on January 31, 2022.
Charles Ballard and Bill Beuttell are candidates for the two open seats for the non-partisan Avery Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor. Ballard and Beuttell are running unopposed as well, although write-in candidates are permitted for the race.
Aldridge, Young, Jr., Burleson, Benfield and Henley are also all guaranteed of winning their races if they only receive one vote as they have no Democrat, other political party or parties or filed write-in opposition.
To qualify to run in the General Election as a write-in candidate for County Commission, Clerk of Superior Court or Sheriff, that person or persons would have had to obtain a petition of a minimum of 500 signatures of Avery County’s registered voters endorsing such a candidacy. And that petition would have had to be submitted to the Avery County Board of Elections officials at least 90 days (August 9 deadline) before the General Election.
The two county commission candidates with the most votes will serve four-year terms, while the candidate with the third highest votes will serve a two-year term.
Benfield, Henley, Ballard, Beuttell or write-in vote winners for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor seats will all serve four-year terms.
Additionally, various national, state and district races are on the 2022 General Election ballot, including: United States Senate; United States House of Representatives (Congress) District 5; North Carolina House District 85; North Carolina Senate District 47; District Attorney District 35; and several races for state judicial seats.
Also, write-in candidates are permitted in the United States Senate race.
In the race for United States Senate, four candidates from North Carolina are seeking the post: Democrat Cheri Beasley of Raleigh, the former Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court; Republican Ted Budd from Advance, who currently represents North Carolina’s 13th congressional district, which covers the North-Central part of the state; Libertarian Shannon W. Bray of Apex; and Green Party candidate Matthew Hoh of Wake Forest.
In the North Carolina House District 85 Race, Newland native, former McDowell County Sheriff and incumbent Republican Dudley Greene is running against Democrat Robert Cordle for the right to represent Avery, Mitchell and McDowell counties in the State House.
Both Greene and Cordle live in Marion.
The winner of the District 85 race will serve a two-year term.
In another race involving an Avery County native or resident, Republican Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk is seeking re-election to the United States House of Representatives (Congress) District 5. Her opponent is Democrat Kyle Parrish of Cary.
On February 23, 2022, the North Carolina Supreme Court approved a new map which changed the 5th district boundaries to include Avery, Mitchell, Alleghany, Ashe, Davie, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin Counties, most of Caldwell County and part of Forsyth County.
The District 5 winner will serve a two-year term.
Also, Spruce Pine (located in neighboring Mitchell County) native and incumbent Ralph Hise (Republican) is unopposed in the General Election North Carolina State Senate District 47 race.
Hise will also win if he only gets one vote since he has no Democrat or other political party or parties’ opposition.
The District 47 seat is for a two-year term.
Since 2013, District 47 has covered all of Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, McDowell, Rutherford, and Polk counties. The district overlaps with the 85th, 112th, 113th, and 118th state house districts. But beginning in 2023, District 47 will cover all of Avery, Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties, as well as parts of Haywood and Caldwell counties.
Avery County has been part of North Carolina State Senate District 46, consisting of Avery, Burke and Caldwell counties. But also starting in 2023, that district will cover all of Burke and McDowell counties, as well as part of Buncombe County.
Republican Seth Banks of Burnsville (Yancey County) is seeking re-election as District Attorney for North Carolina Prosecutorial District 35, which includes Avery, Watauga, Mitchell, Yancey and Madison counties. Banks is running unopposed as well.
The District 35 seat is for a four-year term.
Banks will win as well if he only gets one vote since he has no Democrat or other political party or party’s opposition.
A sample ballot for Avery County is included with this article. Complete election total updates and final results may be accessed online after 7:30 p.m. on November 8 by logging onto the following online link:
Further election details for Avery County may be also obtained from the Avery County Board of Elections office, located in the Avery Court House Annex in Newland or by calling (828) 733-8282.