By Tim Gardner
Early voting statistics released by the Avery Board of Elections Monday morning continue to indicate the county’s voters have a keen interest in the 2018 North Carolina General Election.
According to Avery Board of Elections Deputy Director Caleb Hogan, early voting in the county has been “very high” since it began Wednesday, October 17. He said 1,015 have cast their votes as of 8:30 this morning (Monday, October 29) and that 139 already have submitted their votes by absentee ballot.
Those totals show that 649 more of the county’s voters have cast ballots since last Monday morning, October 22 (up from 366) and that the Elections Office has received 39 more absentee ballots (up from 100) in the same time span.
Hogan added 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 Election Day (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 11,724 registered voters (28.8 percent) cast ballots then.
Early voting takes place in person before Election Day. You don’t need an excuse to vote early — you can vote early even if you are capable of voting at the polls on Election Day. The only location Avery voters can cast their ballots in person early is at the Board of Elections office, located in Suite 307 at the Avery County Court House, 200 Montezuma Street, Newland.
Early voting is still open every day from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday this week October 29, 30 and 31 and November 1 and 2 as well as on Saturday, November 3, from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is by Tuesday, October 30. All absentee ballots must be returned by 5:00 p.m. on Election Day.
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.