DOBSON — A large chunk of Surry County voters, 38 percent, cast their ballots through one-stop early voting in the 2008 presidential election and officials believe that will increase this year.
“I do — I expect it to be (higher),” county Elections Director Susan Jarrell said Wednesday in anticipation of the early voting period beginning Oct. 18 in Dobson. That service, which allows citizens to get a head start on the electoral process, also will be offered later in the month at locations in Mount Airy and Elkin.
“We think the trend will continue of more people voting early or voting absentee ballot by mail than they do on Election Day,” Jarrell said. The overall turnout for the 2008 general election, including one-stop voting, was 66 percent.
“We encourage people to vote early,” Jarrell said of a program that allows the process to be spread out, thus avoiding a situation of everyone showing up on Election Day.
One-stop absentee early voting will be offered at the Surry County Board of Elections from Oct. 18 to Nov. 3, which is the Saturday before the election on Nov. 6.
For the weekday periods of Oct. 18-19, Oct. 22-26 and Oct. 29-Nov. 2, the voting schedule is 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Nov. 3, voters can cast ballots at the elections office from 8:15 a.m. until 1 p.m.
It is located on the lower level of the new courthouse in Dobson, at 201 E. Kapp St.
Early Voting Appeal
In addition to allowing registered voters to avoid possible long lines at polling places on Nov. 6, the one-stop early voting program offers advantages to those who aren’t registered.
Someone who hasn’t registered and wishes to vote on Election Day itself must sign up by Oct. 12.
However, someone missing that deadline can still show up at an early voting site, either the one in Dobson or those to open later in the month in Mount Airy and Elkin, where they can both register and cast ballots.
This can be done at all three locations until the Saturday before Election Day.
Yet Jarrell encourages registering by the regular Oct. 12 deadline if possible, for the sake of convenience at one-stop sites.
“Before the deadline, it’s a matter of filling out a form, and after that it will take a little more time,” the elections director said.
A Surry County voter can cast a ballot at any one-stop location.
Mount Airy, Elkin
Mount Airy and Elkin will get a later start on early voting, which begins in both municipalities on Oct. 29 and will run through Nov. 3.
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.
Early voting in Mount Airy will take place at the Surry County Human Services Center, located at 1218 State St. behind Arby’s.
Jarrell reminded that this represents a change from 2008, when early voters cast ballots at the Mount Airy Public Library.
“We had just outgrown that location,” the county elections official said of the library, which otherwise was a fine facility for voting.
The Surry County Human Services Center, on the other hand, is much more spacious and will allow greater numbers of voters to be accommodated.
“We have expanded that site,” Jarrell said of a location used for early voting for a primary last spring. “We plan to have about 20 machines in there, compared to 10 the last time.” That’s partly due to simply having more space available to expand, and also because of the anticipated turnout.
“We’re getting ready for more people,” Jarrell said.
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.
As the hotly contested presidential and other races edge toward a climax, many local citizens are becoming registered for the first time.
“We are seeing it pick up considerably,” Jarrell said Wednesday. “Since the first of August, we have processed 758 new registrants.”
The elections director added that anyone who wants to check their registration status, download a registration form or view a sample ballot can visit the Surry County Board of Elections website at http://www.co.surry.nc.us/Departments/Elections/index.htm.
Other information is available there as well, including details on acceptable forms of identification that might be needed for the registration process.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.