When it comes to voting in 2020, D-Day is near.
Tuesday will be the final chance for North Carolina — and Haywood — residents to weigh in as polls open at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, and remain open until 7:30 p.m.
The one-stop early voting sites where individuals can both register and vote close at 3 p.m. Saturday. After that, those who aren’t registered cannot vote, and voters who haven’t voted early must show up at their assigned precinct to cast a ballot.
There are 29 precincts across Haywood and voters who don’t know where their precinct is can check online or call the Haywood County Board of Elections office at 452-6633.
“There will be many people going to the one-stop locations in error because they voted there at one point in the past,” said Robbie Inman, the director of Haywood County Board of Elections.
As of Friday morning, more than 4 million North Carolinians had voted, indicating that the 2016 vote total of 4.7 million is likely to be surpassed early on Election Day.
As of Nov. 29 in Haywood County, there were 5,731 ballots cast by mail to go along with 20,794 one-stop ballots to total 57.2% of registered voters. That left two days of early voting for the number to increase even more.
The county has seen a significant uptick in new voter registrations. Since the Nov. 6, 2018, midterm election, a total of 6,734 people registered in Haywood.
Of those, 3,161 were Republicans, 1,644 were Democrats and 3,298 were unaffiliated. A small number belonged to the Libertarian, Green or Constitution parties, all of which are recognized in North Carolina.
In 2020, a total of 438 voters registered at one-stop early voting sites during the 2020 General Election, including 215 Republicans, 62 Democrats and 157 unaffiliated.
On Election Day, curbside voting will be available at every site for people who can’t enter the voting place due to age or disability.
The term “disability” applies if a person:
• Is unable to enter the polling place due to age, or physical or mental disability such as agoraphobia;
• Have a medical condition that increases the risk of COVID-19;
• Should not wear a mask due to a medical or behavioral condition or disability;
• Is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Curbside voters are required to sign an affidavit stating that they can’t enter the voting place to cast a ballot.
Inman praised the staff at the elections office as they put in long hours and quickly adapted to the many changes required by the ongoing pandemic.
“I can’t say enough about the people who work to make this possible,” he said. “I’ve said it before, and I don’t hesitate to say it again. They are some of the finest I know, and they’re the ones who make elections possible.”
Absentee votes will be tabulated on Nov. 3, and the results will be released at 7:30 p.m. Election Day results will trickle in throughout the night as various precincts report. Voters can check on the results at https://er.ncsbe.gov/ or check The Mountaineer website and Facebook page where local results will be updated as they become available.
Last minute change
On Wednesday, county boards of elections had to once again change direction in mid-stride.
Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court, on a 5-3 decision, declined to overturn the ruling by a lower court that determined the North Carolina Board of Elections could change the deadline to receive absentee ballots by mail without a vote from the General Assembly.
Because of the SCTOUS ruling, ballots postmarked on Election Day can now be counted as long as they’re received no later than Nov. 12. The previous deadline was Nov. 6.
The state board of elections’ decision to extend the deadline drew extensive criticism from Republicans in Raleigh, but amid concerns over postal service delays and increased mail-in absentee voting, the extra time was deemed warranted by the board.
While the newest change is one in a long line of procedural back-and-forths, Haywood County Board of Elections Director Robbie Inman wasn’t too concerned.
“We’re going right down to the wire. We’re going to do things the exact same way we always have. Instead of being wrapped up with supplemental absentee-by-mail for three days, we’ll now wait until the day before canvass to wrap up,” he said.
Visit https://www.haywoodcountync.gov/DocumentCenter/View/107/Notice-of-Buffer-Zone-PDF for a list of Haywood County precincts. To check which polling place you should go to, visit https://vt.ncsbe.gov/PPLkup/. It’s important to remember that a person must go to their specific polling place to vote, not a one-stop voting location.