At Wilkesboro Civic Center Saturday

Democracy N.C. volunteer Ann Kaplan is posted outside the Wilkesboro Civic Center, one of Wilkes County's two one-stop, early voting sites, on Saturday. Kaplan was serving as a voter protector, which she said meant she was available to assist voters with questions or any difficulties exercising their right to vote. According to its website, Democracy N.C. is a nonpartisan organization that seeks to increase voter participation and reduce "big money's" influence in politics.

Wilkes County’s turnout for one-stop, early voting and absentee, by-mail voting combined lagged behind the rest of the state and all but one adjoining county when early, one-stop ended Saturday statewide.

Of the 43,763 registered voters in Wilkes, 23,891 (54.6%) cast ballots by then. The Wilkes total included 4,192 via absentee, by-mail ballots counted so far and 19,699 ballots cast in one-stop, early voting.

Statewide, the combined turnout by the end of the day Saturday was 61%. Among those 4,531,466 ballots cast statewide, 3,603,023 were in one-stop, early voting and the remainder absentee, mail-in.

Yadkin County also had a combined 54.6% turnout (13,481 of 24,684) by the end of the day Saturday.

The comparatively low turnouts in Wilkes and Yadkin could reflect the large GOP registration in those counties and the fact that compared to Democrats, Republicans are more prone to vote on Election Day instead of before.

Heavily Republican Avery County, for example, had a combined turnout of 47.6% by the end of the day Saturday.

Combined voter turnouts for other counties adjoining Wilkes by the end of the day Saturday were:

• Alexander, 16,873 (67.5%) of 24,878;

• Alleghany, 5,023 (66%) of 7,609;

• Ashe, 11,050 (56.8%) of 19,398;

• Caldwell, 35,522 (65%) of 54,521;

• Iredell, 82,841 (63.3%) of 130,513;

• Surry, 29,539 (62.7%) of 46,981;

• Watauga, 27,333 (60.6%) of 45,059.

The statewide combined turnout by the end of the day Saturday was 37.40% Democratic, 31.73% Republican and 30.33% unaffiliated.

Also concerning the statewide combined turnout:

• 66.34% were white voters;

•19.50% were Black voters;

•14.16% were listed as “other” for race;

• 51.24% were women;

• 40.75% were men;

• the gender of 8% was undesignated.

Absentee ballots still accepted

North Carolina's deadline for requesting absentee ballots by mail has passed but completed absentee ballots can be returned to a voter’s county board of elections and be counted if postmarked on or before Election Day and received by 5 p.m. Nov. 12. They can be mailed by U.S. Postal Service, FedEx or DHL Express.

Completed absentee ballots can also be dropped off in person at the county board of elections office, but this must be done by 5 p.m. Election Day (Nov. 3). Only the voter, a near relative of the voter or legal guardian may possess the absentee ballot to return it to the board of elections office.

The voter must sign the outside of the ballot return envelope and the voter’s witness must complete and sign the witness certification. If assistance is provided for marking or mailing the absentee ballot, the assistant must fill out the voter assistant certification.

The voter is supposed to complete the ballot in the presence of a witness, but not with the witness seeing how the voter votes.

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