DOBSON — Friday the 13th is known as an unlucky day, but for would-be primary voters in Surry County who are not registered, beating a 5 p.m. deadline this Friday can provide a positive outcome.
That is the last day to register to cast ballots on May 8 in the much-anticipated primary election highlighted by candidates for Surry County sheriff, seats on the county Board of Commissioners and others.
Regular voters in the various elections conducted locally do not have to worry about registering, since they automatically are eligible to cast ballots, according to Surry Director of Elections Susan Jarrell.
“If they are someone who votes every four years, they are going to be active on our rolls,” Jarrell said Wednesday.
Those not beating Friday afternoon’s traditional voter-registration deadline may still register and vote during an upcoming early voting period, although not on the May 8 primary day itself, and also must provide proof of residency if taking that route.
Jarrell added that anyone unsure about their registration status can check it on the Surry County Board of Elections’ website.
Friday also is the deadline for changing one’s existing political party affiliation before the primary. That might be a consideration for voters wishing to cast ballots for candidates in a particular race restricted to those affiliated with the party involved.
There is a good chance that some among the citizenry might have let their registration lapse, and had their interest in the electoral process renewed with the hotly contested primary races attracting a large number of candidates.
“It’s a little bit unusual in Surry County,” Jarrell said of the volume of office-seekers which is largely due to resignations by Sheriff Graham Atkinson and Central District Commissioner Buck Golding before their terms ended.
“And that has certainly brought out more candidates for those seats.” This includes four Republican candidates each for the upcoming sheriff and Central District commissioner primaries.
Meeting the regular registration deadline this Friday simply requires filling out a form.
Forms can be downloaded from the board website or picked up at its office in Dobson, along with being available at any public library.
The completed documents must be postmarked by 5 p.m. Friday or delivered to the elections office in person.
Jarrell also offered a word of caution about taking the forms to a post office that day. “The post office does not have to postmark mail any longer,” the elections official explained.
In order to ensure that mailed forms will be dated for Friday, she said citizens can take letters to the service window and request that postmark.
Early voting option
Persons not eligible to vote who miss Friday’s regular deadline still can register and cast ballots on the same day during early voting beginning later this month, but this will require more time and effort on their part.
“If you missed that traditional deadline and want to complete registration at an early voting site, then you would have to provide proof of residency,” Jarrell said.
This can be achieved by displaying valid documents showing one’s present name and home address, which can include a North Carolina driver’s license; a photo identification from a government agency; or a recent utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other governmental document.
“They can also use their hunting license,” Jarrell said of the list of acceptable credentials for registration purposes.
One-stop early absentee voting begins at the Dobson office on April 19 and extends to satellite locations in Mount Airy and elsewhere on April 30.
Jarrell added that individuals who are registered may continue to request that a ballot be mailed to their home, with no excuse needed to do this. Requests must be made on an official form, which can be obtained on the Board of Elections’ website or by calling its office.
“We will take requests for ballots by mail until May 1,” Jarrell reported. “We have already mailed out 150 ballots for this election (as of Tuesday).”
Up-to-date figures show those registered with the GOP representing a sizable advantage in Surry County.
The breakdown includes:
• Republicans — 19,151.
• Democrats — 13,666.
• Unaffiliated — 12,560.
• Libertarians — 116.
Registered voters in Surry, as of Wednesday, totaled 45,493.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.