Early, one-stop voting for the 2020 primary and Wilkes County Board of Education elections starts Thursday and continues through Feb. 29.

Citizens can register to vote and then vote at the same location during this early voting. For this year’s school board and primary races, it’s in the Wilkes County commissioners’ meeting room on the first floor of the County Office Building in Wilkesboro.

Early, one-stop voting hours are 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13, 14, 17-21 and 24-28 (all weekdays) and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 29 (Saturday).

Name and address changes will be allowed during early one-stop voting and on Election Day, but Feb. 7 was the deadline for changing political party affiliation for this year’s primary and school board races.

Voters won’t be required to show a photo ID when voting in the 2020 primary and school board election as a result of a Dec. 31 federal court order blocking this requirement until further order of the court.

In North Carolina primary elections, unaffiliated voters can choose to vote with either a Republican, Democratic or Libertarian ballot. If they don’t choose one of these, they receive a non-partisan ballot with only the five Wilkes County Board of Education candidates.

Wilkes Board of Education elections are non-partisan, which means party affiliation of candidates isn’t shown on ballots. School board winners are chosen during the primary rather than in the general election, which is Nov. 3.

The candidates for three Wilkes school board seats, found at the very end of the ballots, are George Shafer, T. Kirk Walker, Brandon Whitaker, Joan Sheets Caudill and Hardin Kennedy III. Walker is the only incumbent.

Two other local races will be decided in this year’s primary—Wilkes register of deeds and one District Court judgeship. Both positions have two Republican contenders and no Democrats.

Republican ballots in Wilkes also have eight candidates for three Wilkes County commissioner seats. They are Dale Pierce, Miranda Gray Pruitt, Eddie Settle, Bill Sexton, Ralph C. Broyhill, G. Keith Elmore, Rachel Carr Jarvis and Casey Joe Johnson. Elmore and Settle are incumbents. The three winners will face the two Democratic candidates in the Nov. 3 general election.

Registration totals

Feb. 7 also was the deadline to register to vote on primary election day, which is March 3.

As of 5 p.m. Feb. 7, there were 41,227 registered voters in Wilkes. That included 21,636 people registered as Republicans, 11,065 as unaffiliated voters, 8,361 as Democrats, 145 as Libertarians, 13 as members of the Constitution Party and seven as members of the Green Party.

These voter registration numbers reflect the continued increase in the number of unaffiliated voters in Wilkes, a trend underway for at least a decade.

Wilkes had 42,642 registered voters for the primary and school board elections in 2016. These included 21,961 Republicans, 10,730 people registered unaffiliated, 9,813 Democrats and 138 Libertarians.

For the general election in 2016, Wilkes had 22,097 registered Republicans, 10,361 Democrats, 10,457 registered unaffiliated and 120 registered Libertarian. Total registration was 43,035.

Wilkes Board of Elections Director Kim Caudill said the decrease in overall voter registration in Wilkes resulted largely from voter “list maintenance” (purging) at the end of 2019.

Voting absentee by mail

To vote absentee by mail, voters must complete a 2020 State Absentee Ballot Request Form, available at https://s3.amazonaws.com/dl.ncsbe.gov/Forms/NCAbsenteeBallotRequestForm.pdf.

For the 2020 primary, the form requesting an absentee ballot must be received by the Wilkes County Board of Elections by 5 p.m. Feb. 25. Voters who submit a valid request will receive a ballot from the county board of elections. The materials provided include detailed instructions on how to complete and return the ballot.

An absentee ballot request form must be mailed or delivered in person to the voter’s county board of elections. Unlike past elections, request forms may not be emailed or faxed.

If a voter needs help completing the request form due to blindness, disability, or inability to read or write, and a near relative or legal guardian isn’t available, the voter may get help from another person who must list their name and address on the form.

An absentee request form is valid only if returned to the county board of elections by the voter, near relative, legal guardian or Multipartisan Assistance Team.

Statewide candidates

Statewide primary candidates on the ballots in Wilkes County include:

• U.S. Senate: Republican Thom Tillis, the incumbent, is running against Larry Holmquist, Sharon Y. Hudson and Paul Wright. Candidates in the Democratic primary are Cal Cunningham, Trevor M. Fuller, Atul Goel, Erica D. Smith and Steve Swenson.

• Governor: Democrat Roy Cooper, the incumbent, faces a primary race against Ernest T. Reeves. In the GOP primary for governor, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and N.C. Rep. Holly Grange are the candidates.

• Lieutenant governor: Candidates in the Democratic primary are N.C. Rep. Chaz Beasley, N.C. Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley, Ron Newton, Allen Thomas (Hoke County commissioner), Bill Toole and Sen. Terry Van Duyn. Republican primary candidates are Buddy Bengel, Deborah Cochran, Renee Ellmers, Greg Gebhardt, Mark Johnson, (state superintendent of public instruction), John T. Ritter, Mark Robinson, Scott Stone and N.C. Sen. Andy Wells.

• Attorney general: Republican primary candidates are Jim O’Neill (Forsyth County district attorney), Sam Hayes and Christine Mumma. Josh Stein, a Democrat, doesn’t face opposition in his own party.

• Treasurer: Democratic primary candidates are Matt Leatherman, Ronnie Chatterji and Dimple Ajmera. Republican Dale Folwell, the incumbent, doesn’t face opposition in his own party.

• Secretary of State: Republican primary candidates are Chad Brown, E.C. Sykes and Michael LaPaglia. Democrat Elaine Marshall, the incumbent, doesn’t face opposition in her own party.

• Superintendent of Public Instruction: Republican primary candidates N.C. Rep. Craig Horn and Catherine Truitt. Democratic primary candidates James Barrett (Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board member), Constance Lav Johnson, Michael Maher, Jen Mangrum and Keith Sutton (Wake County school board member).

• Commissioner of Insurance: Incumbent Mike Causey faces Ronald Pierce in the GOP primary.

• Auditor: Incumbent Beth Wood faces Luis A. Toledo in the Democratic primary. Tim Hoegemeyer and Anthony Wayne Street square off in the Republican primary.

All 170 seats in the state legislature—50 in the Senate and 120 in the House—are up for election. No state legislators representing Wilkes face opposition within their own parties.

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