By Tim Gardner
The Avery County Board of Elections is still reminding its residents that 2020 Primary Election Early Voting is underway in the county. And according to election officials, the county has witnessed a large voter turnout so far.
Avery County Board of Elections Director Shelia Ollis said that a huge volume have taken advantage of Primary Election Early Voting to cast their ballots, which numbered 344 as of 12:00 Noon on Thursday, February 20. That’s an average of approximately 63 per day.
Primary Election Early Voting in Avery County began Thursday, February 13 and runs through Friday, February 28, excluding Saturdays and Sundays except for Saturday, February 29 when 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 remaining dates and times for conducting Early Voting for the Primary Election will be:
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’ve expected a very large voter turnout in Avery County this year, with many voters here taking advantage of Primary Election Early Voting and we’ve seen that,” added Caleb Hogan, Assistant Director of the Avery County Board of Elections.
Ollis noted that while Early Voting turnout has been high for the Primary Election, Avery usually experiences much higher Early Voting totals for the General Election that reach “into the thousands.”
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.
Avery County Election officials also said that the Avery Board of Elections wants to notify all voters in its Plumtree Precinct that its voting site has been moved to Plumtree Presbyterian Church from Riverside School.
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 work 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.
Nebo resident and Avery native Josh Dobson is running for North Carolina Commissioner of Labor. Dobson, a Republican, has served in the North Carolina House of Representatives for four terms, representing the people of Avery, McDowell and Mitchell counties.
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 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.