By Nathan Ham
With three days left in the early voting period for North Carolina, absentee by mail ballots and one-stop early voting ballots have been collected from 21,821 voters in Watauga County.
The total of absentee by mail ballots collected as of October 27 was 4,444 and the total number of early-voting ballots cast as of the same day was 17,377.
The early voting location on Appalachian State’s campus remains the busiest location with a total of 4,937 votes cast so far. The Watauga County Administration Building has had 4,102 early voters. Deep Gap is next on the list with 3,033 early voting ballots, followed by the Western Watauga Community Center with 2,188 ballots, Blowing Rock with 1,935 ballots, and Foscoe with 1,182 ballots.
Turnout has been at a high number already this year even before Election Day. As of Wednesday, 48 percent of the number of registered voters in Watauga County have already voted. That is right around the current state average of registered voters that have already cast their ballot. A total of 3,631,565 ballots in North Carolina have been cast, which makes up 49.53 percent of the registered voters in the state.
Early voting will continue through Saturday. Statewide, all early voting sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
“Early voting is consistently the most popular form of voting in North Carolina, and 2020 appears to be no different,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “If you wish to vote early, we encourage you to find a site and time that works for you between now and Saturday.”
The final few days of the early voting period are typically the busiest days, and voters may have to wait in line at some early voting sites. In 2016, more than 561,000 voters cast ballots the last Thursday and Friday of the early voting period, by far the highest turnout during a two-day span that year.
Through Tuesday, more than 2.8 million voters had cast ballots in person this year, nearing the 2,955,600 votes during the entire 2016 early voting period.
Voters who receive an absentee ballot by mail may deliver their completed ballot to an election official at an early voting site in their county. Ballots will be kept securely and delivered to the county board of elections for processing. Voters may not drop their ballots off at a polling place on Election Day. All mailed-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, November 3.