By Tim Gardner
The Avery County Board of Elections is reminding its residents that the time period for early voting in the county begins on Thursday, February 13 and runs through Friday, February 28, excluding Saturdays and Sundays except for Saturday, February 29 when its Early Voting will also be open.
All Early Voting in the county must be done at the Avery Board of Elections Office, located in the Avery Court House Annex at 200 Montezuma Street in Newland.
The 2020 Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
The precise dates and times for conducting Early Voting for the Primary Election will be:
Thursday, February 13 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Friday, February 14 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Monday, February 17 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday, February 18 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 19 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, February 20 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Friday, February 21 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Monday, February 24 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday, February 25 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 26 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, February 27 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Friday, February 28 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 29 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
The deadline to register to vote early in North Carolina in the 2020 primary election was Friday, February 7.
“We’re expecting a very large voter turnout in Avery County this year, with many voters here taking advantage of Early Voting,” said Caleb Hogan, Assistant Director of the Avery County Board of Elections.
Those who missed the regular voter registration deadline may still register and vote in Avery County during the early voting period, February 13-29.
At an early voting site, registered voters may update their address, but not their party affiliation. Registered voters who wish to change their party affiliation were required to do so no later than February 7.
To register to vote, individuals must meet certain qualifications and complete a North Carolina Voter Registration Application in English or Spanish. Applications are available at the state and county boards of elections, public libraries, public high schools, college admissions offices and many state agencies.
Once completed, the applicant must sign the form, and mail it or return it in person to their county board of elections. Voters who are already registered may update their information by submitting a voter registration form by email, fax, mail, or in-person to their county board of elections.
To find the address of your local board of elections, use the county board lookup tool: vt.ncsbe.gov/BOEInfo/.
Prospective voters must meet the following qualifications to register to vote:
- Be a United States citizen;
- Have been a resident of North Carolina, the county, and precinct for 30 days before the election;
- Be at least 18 years old; 17-year-olds may register and vote in a primary election if they will be 18 at the time of the general election; and
- Not be serving a sentence for a felony conviction (including probation or parole). (Citizenship and voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of the sentence. No special document is needed.)
Voters are not required to show photo identification (ID) for the March 2020 primary election. In a December 31 order, a federal district court blocked North Carolina’s voter photo ID requirement from taking effect. The injunction will remain in place until a further order of the courts system.
Filing for the 2020 government elections ended at 12:00 Noon on December 20, 2019 and dozens of candidates from the area filed for Federal, State and local offices, including sixteen for county-wide government seats that will be open in Avery County.
For Avery Clerk of Court, Interim Clerk of Court Teresa Benfield filed, along with Theresa Lewis King, Lisa Vance and Linda Webb. Benfield has served in the interim role since the retirement earlier this year of longtime Clerk of Court Lisa Daniels.
All four candidates have worked in various capacities in the judicial system.
In the County Commissioner’s race, incumbents Martha Jaynes Hicks, Tim Phillips and Wood Hall (Woodie) Young, Jr. filed as did newcomer Jake Roland Ingram.
For Register of Deeds, incumbent Renee DelIinger filed for re-election.
Incumbent John Millan has also filed for County Coroner.
Benfield, Vance, King, Webb, Hicks, Phillips, Young, Jr., Ingram, Dellinger and Millan are all Republicans.
For non-partisan Board of Education, incumbents Kathy Aldridge and John Greene filed as did Ruth Shirley, Jennifer Jennings, Derrick Calloway and Steven Neil Wilson.
For North Carolina House of Representatives (State House), District 85, Democrat Ted Remington of Marion filed as did Republican Dudley Greene, also of Marion. Greene is an Avery County native.
In the North Carolina State Senate Race, Democrat Michael Barrick of Lenoir filed as did incumbent Republican Warren Daniel of Morganton.
For the United States House of Representatives (District 11), Democrats who filed include: Steve Woodsmall of Pisgah Forest; Gina Collias of Kings Mountain; Morris (Moe) Davis of Asheville; Michael O’Shea of Asheville; and Phillip G. Price of Marion.
For United States House of Representatives (District 11), Republicans who filed include: Lynda Bennett of Maggie Valley; Jim Davis of Franklin; Chuck Archerd of Asheville; Dan Driscoll of Lenoir; Joey Osborne of Hickory; Steven Fekete, Jr. of Lenoir; Dillon S. Gentry of Banner Elk; Wayne King of Kings Mountain; Madison Cawthorn of Hendersonville; Matthew Burril of Asheville; and Vance Patterson of Morganton.
Green Party candidate for the United States House of Representatives (District 11) will be Tamara Zwinak of Franklin, while Tracey DeBruhl of Asheville will be the Libertarian candidate for the same office.
U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) will no longer represent Avery County in 2020. The former president of Mayland Community College, located on the Avery-Mitchell County line, filed for re-election in 2020 to the US House of Representatives in the recently realigned North Carolina 5th District.
Last November, a new congressional districting map was passed in the North Carolina General Assembly that made changes to the 5th district.
The new 5th district includes Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, Alexander, Caldwell, Burke, Cleveland and Gaston counties, eastern Rutherford County and a small segment of northern Catawba County.
Avery, Surry, Stokes, Yadkin and Forsyth are no longer part of the 5th district, which Foxx represents.
A judicial ruling altered Western North Carolina’s political map, eliminating the line that split the city of Asheville into two congressional districts.
The change follows a December 2, 2019 unanimous decision by a three-judge state panel not to review a quickly drawn remedial map of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts. That map was drawn by the Republican-majority General Assembly, which has the power to redistrict every ten years after a census is conducted.
The panel on October 28, 2019 blocked the old map mandating that it likely amounted to an illegal partisan gerrymander. That map had resulted in the election of ten Republicans and three Democrats even though statewide the number of votes were close to evenly split between the parties.
Political observers have said that the new lines would likely reduce the Republican statewide advantage by two seats, though the 11th was not one of them. Democrats generally declared that the map still amounted to an illegally-engineered partisan advantage for Republicans. But the judges said it was too close to the March 3, 2020 primaries to consider detailed redistricting arguments.
The new 11th District will cover 17 counties: Avery, Mitchell, Yancey, Madison, Buncombe, McDowell, Polk, Henderson, Transylvania, Jackson, Haywood, Swain, Macon, Clay, Graham, Cherokee and half of Rutherford.