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Early Voting Concludes in Avery County with Extremely High Volume

By Tim Gardner

Final Early Voting statistics released by Elections Boards from the State of North Carolina and Avery County indicate that Avery’s voters have as much interest in the 2018 North Carolina General Election as perhaps any election in memory.

This interest seems spurred by several factors that include a sharp ideological divide among some candidates for the same office as well as Donald Trump’s performance as United States President and which local, regional and state/national office candidates support or do not support him and his policies and actions during his two years of his current four-year term.

According to Avery Board of Elections Deputy Director Caleb Hogan, early voting in the county was “in extremely large volume” since it began Wednesday, October 17 and ended on Saturday, November 3. A total of 2,010 of the county’s more than 12,000 registered voters cast their ballots early.

1,921 were cast at the Elections Board Office and 89 by mail.

That total includes: 1,110 Republicans; 595 Unaffiliated; 302 Democrats; and 3 Libertarians. Broken down by gender it is: 1,050 females, 943 males and 17 undesignated.

Also, 995 more voters cast early ballots since 8:30 a.m. last Monday, October 29, until Early Voting concluded at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 3.

According to North Carolina Elections Board statistics, there are 12,042 registered voters in Avery County. Those include 7,027 Republicans (58.2 percent); 1,452 Democrats (12.06 percent); 50 Libertarians (.042 percent); and 3,523 Unaffiliated (29.26 percent).

Also included in those totals are 11,538 (95.81 percent) White voters; 85 Blacks (0.71 percent); and 419 (3.48 percent) from other races.

Hogan said that only 922 voted and 143 absentee ballots were cast during the whole Early Voting period in the last mid-term election in 2014.

Additionally, Hogan noted that the large number of early and absentee votes may indicate there also will be a high voter turnout on General Election Day tomorrow (November 6). If that happens, it will be opposite of the county’s May 2018 primary election when turnout was low. Only 3,380 out of the then-11,724 registered voters (28.8 percent) voted in that election.

Avery County offices on the General Election ballot are for Sheriff, Clerk of Court, County Commission and Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor.

Three seats are open on the County Commission. The two candidates with the most votes will serve four-year terms, while the candidate with the third most votes will serve a two-year term.

Republican incumbents Blake Vance and Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr. along with fellow-Republican Dennis Aldridge and Democrat Dick Crews are seeking to fill those seats.

Incumbent Sheriff Kevin Frye is unopposed by a Democrat or other Party candidate. Neither is incumbent Lisa Daniels for Clerk of Court.

The Sheriff and Clerk of Court will both serve four-year terms.

Incumbents Bill Beuttell and Ann Coleman are running for the two seats open for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor. Those are four-year seats, but a Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor election is held every two years.

Avery voters also will cast ballots for or against a local sales and use tax at the rate of one-quarter percent (0.25%) in addition to all other State and local sales and use taxes.

If the county’s voters approve adding the sales tax, an extra 25 cents for every one hundred dollars ($100.00) spent would be created, which could amount to as much as $690,000.00 annually. The sales tax money would be placed in the county’s General Fund and could be spent on capital projects such as for school construction and renovations.

Avery voters also will join those from Watauga, Mitchell, Yancey and Madison counties in electing a District Attorney for their 35th District. That prosecutorial district was recently changed in number from the 24th to the 35th. Republican incumbent Seth Banks is unopposed for District Attorney.

Avery voters will join those from Mitchell and McDowell Counties in electing a State Representative (House Member) for the 85th District and from Burke and Caldwell counties in electing a State Senator for the 46th District. The winners of the District Attorney, State House and State Senate races will serve four-year terms.

Republican incumbent Warren Daniel and Democrat Art Sherwood are the 46th District State Senate candidates and Republican incumbent Josh Dobson and Democrat Howard Larsen are the 85th District State House candidates.

Incumbent Republican Virginia Foxx and Democrat Denise (D.D.) Adams are the candidates for United States House (Congress) for North Carolina’s 5th District, which encompasses much of the northwestern portion of the state, including Avery County and stretching East to include a portion of Winston-Salem.

Avery voters also will help decide several state and district judicial offices including: North Carolina Supreme Court Associate Justice; three seats for NC Court of Appeals Judge; and seats for NC Superior Court and District Court Judge for District 24 in which Republican Gary Gavenus and Democrat Larry Leake are unopposed for each respectively.

Additionally, Avery voters will cast their preferences for or against six constitutional amendments.

Those who did vote early in the General Election can do so on Tuesday. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

According to Ballotpedia, the hours polls are open can be extended if polling times are delayed or interrupted by more than 15 minutes.

Avery County has the following nineteen voting precincts: Altamont; Banner Elk; Beech Mountain; Cary’s Flat; Cranberry; Elk Park; Frank; Heaton; Hughes; Ingalls; Linville; Minneapolis; Montezuma; Newland 1; Newland 2; Pineola; Plumtree; Pyatte; and Roaring Creek.

An Avery County voting canvass will be held on Friday, November 16 to make sure all vote tabulations are accurate.