Interest in the 2012 campaigns is running high with less than five weeks remaining before Election Day.
“We’ve had at least 100 people who have come into the office thinking that one one-stop voting has already opened,” said Joan Caudill, deputy director of the Wilkes County board of elections. “We’ve also had hundreds of calls—usually over 100 each day—from people asking when one-stop opens. A lot of people are also registering and updating their voter information. Needless to say, we’ve been busy.”
One-stop voting for the general election will open Thursday, Oct. 18 and end Saturday, Nov. 3 in the county commissioners meeting room at the Wilkes County Office Building in Wilkesboro. The hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekdays. The final day for one-stop voting will be Saturday, Nov. 3, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., which is the only Saturday that voting is open.
Additional one-stop voting sites will be open Tuesday, Oct. 30-Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Clingman Community Center, Millers Creek Fire Department and Mulberry–Fairplains Fire Department. The polls will be open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday at those locations.
Mrs. Caudill noted that early voting has already started in some states.
The elections office here has already sent out 602 absentee ballots. Mrs. Caudill said that some of the campaign committees are mailing forms to voters which can be filled in by the voter and returned to the elections office to request an absentee ballot.
Friday, Oct. 12 is the last day to register in North Carolina for the Nov. 6 general election.
Voter registration forms are available at public service agencies and the Wilkes County Public Library. Individuals who are renewing or obtaining a driver’s license may also register at the driver’s license office on School Street in Wilkesboro.
You may also register at the Wilkes County Board of Elections office located on the third floor of the Wilkes County Office Building on North Street in Wilkesboro. The office hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
In order to register to vote, you must be a citizen of the United States, be 18 years of age by Nov. 6, 2012, and a resident of the county for at least 30 days by Election Day.
‘Register and vote’
Individuals who miss the registration deadline may register and then vote during the one-stop voting period. They must provide proof of identification (such as valid driver’s license, utility bill, bank statement, passport, government I.D., tax bill, hunting/fishing license, or paycheck stub with address) to register at the one-stop site. The “register and vote” option will not be available on Election Day.
Through Monday afternoon, there were 41,924 registered voters in Wilkes. That compares to 41,912 after the close of voter registration in October 2008, 38,281 in June 2003, 41,697 in October 2000, and 39,310 in October 1998.
Mrs. Caudill noted that registration numbers always fall in odd-numbered years when voter records are purged.
“We receive reports regularly from the Department of Health and Human Services listing deaths,” said Mrs. Caudill. “We check those names and dates of birth against those of registered voters. When matches are found, those names are removed.
“Also, we send out post cards to voters who have not cast ballots in the two most recent federal elections, or other elections during that time frame,” she said. “If we don’t get a response, those voters’ names are made inactive. After two additional election cycles, these voters are removed.”
If you have questions about your voter registration, or registering to vote, contact the board of elections office at 651-7339.
Large number of races
The ballot this year includes races for president and vice president to county commissioner and soil and water conservation supervisor.
In addition to the partisan races, the ballot includes several non-partisan contests for the Wilkes County school board, supreme court associate justice, N.C. court of appeals, District 23 judge, and soil and water conservation district supervisor.
A straight party vote does not include votes for unaffiliated candidates or non-partisan offices (such as the school board). Voters must vote separately for those contests. Also, a straight party vote does not include president and vice president.
Education board vote
A special election is being held to determine the winner of the third seat open this year on the Wilkes board of education.
In the May general election for the board, Rickey B. Lankford led Coleen Bush by one vote, 5,653-5,652 following the vote, a full machine recount, and a partial “hand-to-eye” recount.
The state board of elections ordered a new election after the county elections board found that there was “substantial evidence to believe that a violation of the election laws or other irregularity or misconduct did occur” since two 17-year-old voters in the North Wilkesboro precinct were apparently given “full ballots” which included the school board race.
The school board winners are normally sworn in at the June meeting following the May election. The state board of elections ruled on Aug. 7 that Shumate could be certified as the winner. He was sworn in on Monday, Sept. 17 and took the seat occupied by Peggy Martin, who finished fifth in the May 8 race.
Hardin Kennedy, the runner-up in the May 8 race, cannot be seated until after Nov. 6. Lankford and Mrs. Bush are both incumbent members of the board, and they serve until their replacement is named.
Three ballots in Wilkes
Wilkes County voters will receive one of three different ballots depending on whether they live in the 94th, 73rd or 90th N.C. House district.
The realigned 94th House District, which currently is composed of all of Wilkes County, will include all of Alleghany County and 93 percent of the voters in Wilkes County following the fall election.
The 73rd House District includes all of both Alexander County and Yadkin County, as well as the Somers and Brushy Mountain precincts in Wilkes, and the southernmost tip of the Wilkesboro Two precinct bordering on the Iredell line.
The 90th District, which includes all of Surry County, plus all of Traphill Two precinct and the northernmost portion of the Edwards Three precinct.
Also under the redistricting plan, Wilkes was moved from the 45th N.C. Senate District to the 30th District, which also includes all of both Stokes and Surry counties.
Wilkes is still in the U.S. House 5th District.