DOBSON — In a sign that the democratic process is alive and well in Surry County, more than 600 people took advantage of the first day of early voting Thursday in Dobson.
“We have been very busy today,” Elections Director Susan Jarrell said just before the close of business at 5 p.m. As of 4:30, 643 people had cast ballots at the Board of Elections office, with several others waiting to do so, Jarrell said.
People were already waiting when the office staff opened the doors at 8:15 a.m. Thursday, as the Dobson site joined others across North Carolina in greeting one-stop absentee early voting in the state.
“From when we first opened this morning probably until 10 o’clock we did have lines,” Jarrell said late Thursday. But, she added, “I don’t think anybody had to wait more than 10 minutes.”
During times when the office wasn’t as busy, voters were in and out in about five minutes.
Jarrell said she is surprised that so many people cast ballots on the first day of the early voting period in Dobson, which is more than the staff expected.
However, she considers this a sign of the times. “I think the trend is for more people to take advantage of the early voting sites.” For the 2008 general election, 38 percent of those casting ballots in Surry took advantage of early voting, which some view as a more flexible and convenient alternative to visiting the polls on Election Day.
Jarrell expects the 38-percent figure to be exceeded this election cycle. In addition to the hotly contested presidential and North Carolina governor’s races, it involves county commissioner and other local offices along with state and national legislative seats and others.
Early voting will continue at the Dobson site until Nov. 3 — three days before the general election.
Hours today are 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. The same schedule will be in effect from Monday through Friday of next week, along with the Oct. 29-Nov. 2 weekday period. On Nov. 3, early ballots can be cast in Dobson from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Board of Elections is on the lower level of the new courthouse, at 201 E. Kapp St.
City Site Opens Oct. 29
The early voting service will expand to Mount Airy and Elkin on Oct. 29.
Jarrell said some citizens mistakenly showed up to vote Thursday at the Surry County Human Services Center in Mount Airy, the city’s early voting station, and were directed to Dobson.
The schedule in Mount Airy is 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 29-Nov. 2, and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 3, the Saturday before the election. The Surry County Human Services Center is located at 1218 State St. behind Arby’s.
In Elkin, where one-stop early voting will be conducted at the Elkin Rescue Squad building at 940 N. Bridge St., the hours will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 29-Nov. 2, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 3.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.