To put early voting totals into perspective, Richmond County counted about twice the number of early ballots than Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County.
Elections officials attributed the higher than usual turnout to local races for district attorney and sheriff, but contested congressional and General Assembly races are also on the slate for November.
“We’re expecting heavy voter turnout during early voting,” Elections Supervisor Connie Kelly said. “There’s been a lot of interest in the local races, and the national races are causing a great deal of interest as well.”
Early voting begins on Oct. 14 and runs through Oct. 30.
The early voting polling station will be conducted at the Richmond County Elections Office on Hancock Street in Rockingham and will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Oct. 30.
Same day voter registration will also be available during the early voting period, when voters may register and cast a ballot during the same visit.
For same day registration, a citizen must bring current, valid proof of residence, such as photo identification, a government document, utility bill or an invoice letter.
Kelly said a voter registration drive at ThunderFest Thursday would be the last the county will conduct before Nov. 2.
“We’ve been pretty busy registering voters,” she said. “We’ve had several voter registration drives across the county, and people have responded well to them. This year, we’ve been able to pre-register 16- and 17-year-olds for the first time, and we’ve had quite a few take advantage of that.”
Kelly said 150 Richmond Senior students pre-registered to vote. When they turn 18, their information will now automatically be entered into the state’s voter database.
About 120 absentee ballots have also been sent out from the county elections office, Kelly said.
There will be a couple of features that may not be familiar to some voters on ballots on the 2010 ballot, including instant runoff voting to determine three appellate court judges.
The ballot allows voters to record their first, second and third choices, then the first choices are tallied and unofficially reported on election night. If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the first choice votes, they are certified as the winner, but if no candidate receives that majority, the second and third choices will be used to tabulate a winner.
Voters need to realize that marking the same name for two or more choices will not help their candidate, as the name will only be counted once per voter.
The Richmond County Board of Elections filed a request with the state to look for alternatives to costly primary run-offs after the July run-off, and many in the state see this as a possible alternative in future elections.
Additionally, an amendment to the state constitution will be on the ballot disallowing convicted felons from filing to run for sheriff.
Law enforcement organizations across the state have expressed their support for the measure, as has Richmond County Sheriff Dale Furr.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at email@example.com.