By Harley Nefe
As the One Stop Early Voting Period for Watauga County begins on Thursday, Oct. 15 and continues through Oct. 31, Curbside Voting will also be available during the regular voting hours at all One Stop Early Voting sites in addition to on Election Day, which is Nov. 3.
Director of Watauga County Board of Elections Matt Snyder said voting sites will have spaces designated for Curbside Voting with signage that explains what allows a person to use the service.
“It is open to those who due to age or disability cannot enter the voting place,” Snyder said.
Another reason for people to be eligible includes being high-risk for contracting COVID-19.
“It is not people who are concerned about contracting COVID-19,” Snyder said. “People who are high risk for contracting COVID-19 are eligible to use Curbside Voting, but a simple fear of contracting COVID-19 does not make you eligible.”
When a citizen arrives at the Curbside Voting space, there will be a bell that they can ring that notifies an election official to come outside and start the process.
Voters will be asked to take the curbside oath, which attests to those conditions that allows them to participate in Curbside Voting. There are no documents or anything that the citizen needs to hand to the election official to provide proof of eligibility.
“We just take them at their word, and they sign the oath,” Snyder said.
After the curbside oath, the election official acts on the citizen’s behalf, gets the citizen’s name and information and goes inside the voting site to check in and receive their ballot to bring back out. The citizen will then sign their documentation and will be given their ballot. Citizens voting by Curbside Voting will also be given a manila envelope to put their ballot inside for privacy, which will be brought back inside to the polling place and handed off to an election official who puts it inside the ballot scanner. After these steps, the Curbside Voting process is complete.
For Watauga County Citizens who missed the deadline to register to vote to cast a ballot on Election Day, they can register and vote on the same day in Watauga County during the One Stop Early Voting Period.
To register and vote, individuals need to bring in proof of residence within Watauga County that is at least 30 days old, but no more than 90 days old. Examples of proof of residence include a driver’s license, a bank statement, utility or cell phone bill. Also. any government document that would have a citizen’s name and address on it would serve as proof of residence and would allow them to vote during the early voting period only. It does not make them eligible to vote on Election Day.
For the One Stop Early Voting Period, Snyder said they are encouraging folks this year to hit the off peak times for early voting.
“Traditionally between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is when we are busiest, so in order to minimize your chance in having a line, we encourage folks to be there between 8 and 10 in the morning and from 4-7:30 in the evening on weekdays,” Snyder said.
Snyder further said Saturdays have always been a quiet time for them, and they encourage folks to come out on that day of the week as well.
“We want to set a turnout record here in Watauga County, so we encourage everyone to get out and vote,” Snyder said. “We are doing everything we can to keep them safe and to get them voting this year. We appreciate their patience as they may experience a little longer wait then they traditionally have, but we really want everyone to get out and vote this year.”
Any Watauga County citizen can go to any early voting stop site that is most convenient for them.
Watauga County has six early-voting locations:
Watauga County Administration Building, Commissioners’ Board Room
814 W. King Street, Boone
Appalachian State University, Plemmons Student Union – Blue Ridge Ballroom
263 Locust Street, Boone
Blowing Rock Town Hall
1036 Main Street, Blowing Rock
Deep Gap Fire Department
6583 Old 421 South, Deep Gap
High Country Vacation Homes (Foscoe)
520 Church Road, Boone
Western Watauga Community Center
1081 Old U.S. Highway 421, Sugar Grove
Watauga County early voting hours:
October 15-30: 8 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
October 17 and October 24: 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
October 31: 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.