DOBSON — Election Day for the 2017 municipal races in Mount Airy is exactly five weeks from today, but some important dates are approaching in the meantime.
That includes a registration deadline of Oct. 13 for those presently not registered who plan to cast ballots during Election Day itself, on Nov. 7. However, unregistered persons may skip that deadline and still both register and vote during the same stop during an early voting period that begins on Oct. 19 and ends on Nov. 4.
While this year’s municipal election is not generating the interest of the last one in 2015 — which had a hotly contested redevelopment project as its central issue — two of the three seats at stake for 2017 are being contested. This includes the office of mayor and two seats on the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.
Mayor David Rowe is being challenged by local radio personality Ivy Sheppard, while South Ward Commissioner Steve Yokeley is seeking his third term against Todd Harris, a former city board member. Commissioner Jon Cawley is unopposed in the North Ward.
Susan Jarrell, Surry County elections director, suggested Monday that citizens who are not registered should complete that process by the Oct. 13 deadline. This ensures that they will be able to cast ballots on Election Day if they should happen to miss the early voting/same-day registration period for some reason.
Anyone who has participated in any general or local election in recent years probably is registered already. Those who are unsure may check their status by visiting the Surry County Board of Elections website or calling the elections office at 336-401-8225.
For those who are unregistered and miss the Oct. 13 deadline to cast a ballot on Election Day, they can still do so during the one-stop, no-excuse absentee voting period.
It begins on Oct. 19 at the board of elections office in Dobson, and on Nov. 1 the service will be extended to an early voting site at the Mount Airy Municipal Building. Early voting ends at both locations on Nov. 4, the Saturday before Election Day.
But this service will not be available on Election Day for unregistered persons, which makes the Oct. 13 registration date important for those planning to vote then.
Registration forms must be postmarked or delivered in person to the elections office by 5 p.m. that day.
The period for regular absentee voting by mail, which essentially allows citizens to cast ballots from home, begins next Monday. But it requires a certain degree of formality.
“If they would like to have an absentee ballot mailed to their homes, they now have to use a state form,” Jarrell said of citizens opting for that method.
The forms can be downloaded from the board of elections website. “If they call, we’ll be glad to mail or email a copy,” the elections director said.
The completed official request form can be mailed, faxed, emailed (signed and scanned) or delivered to the elections office.
“But there is no excuse (needed),” Jarrell said of using the absentee-by-mail process. “And we’ll be more than happy to mail the ballot out.”
Oct. 31 is the last day to request that an absentee ballot be sent.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.