Early, in-person voting in North Carolina begins Thursday, and the Haywood County Board of Elections is focused on making every preparation possible to ensure people can vote safely.
The three early voting sites in Haywood include the Haywood County Senior Resource Center, 81 Elmwood Way, Waynesville; Canton Public Library, 11 Pennsylvania Ave., Canton and Clyde Town Hall, 8437 Carolina Blvd., Clyde.
The polling sites will be open until Saturday, Oct. 31, and will be closed on Sundays.
Weekday hours are from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday hours on Oct. 24 and Oct. 31 are from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To cast an “in-person absentee ballot” at an early voting location, individuals don’t need to bring an ID and may update their address at that time.
While the voter registration period ended Oct. 9, voters can still register at one of the early voting sites.
Same-day registrants must attest to their eligibility and provide proof of where they live. A voter attests to their eligibility by completing and signing a North Carolina Voter Registration Application.
Voters doing same-day registration must prove their residence by showing any of the following documents with their current name and address:
• North Carolina driver’s license
• Other photo identification issued by a government agency. Any government-issued photo ID is acceptable, provided that the card includes the voter’s current name and address.
• A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document showing the voter’s name and address.
• A current college/university photo identification card paired with proof of campus habitation.
Haywood Board of Elections Director Robbie Inman warned there may be some long lines at the county’s early voting sites, especially considering there are only three of those compared to 29 election precincts on Election Day.
“The line management will be mostly outside where the conditions are recommended,” he said.
Inman also took note of the long lines at polling sites across the country that made national news earlier last week.
“There were some long lines in a lot of places,” he said. “My concern here might be voters finding parking since there will be observers and campaign organizations.”
Early voting this year could be different than what voters have come to expect in the county, Inman warned, particularly concerning longer waiting times.
“I’m not at all trying to discourage anyone from coming when they want to. We’ll process you as fast as we possibly can.”
Another concern highlighted in a memo sent out by the state board of elections last Friday is voter intimidation at the polls, which has also been seen recently at sites across the country.
“We’re looking to discuss conduct at the polls and trying to explain to the public that we just want all of our voters to be safe or to be able to arrive uninterrupted, unhindered and cast their ballot as safely as we can provide,” he said.
While it will be hard to know exactly how these potential issues might manifest in Haywood, Inman said he and others are still trying to be proactive to address situations as they occur.
“The only thing we cannot prepare for is how the public reacts and behaves,” he said. “I’m excited to see this level of activity across the nation, as well as here, but at same time we have to be mindful. We’re in a world with a health emergency that we must take seriously.”
Inman also noted that the board is still receiving requests for absentee ballots and has now topped 8,000. In addition, the board is still processing absentee ballots as they come in during Tuesday meetings. So far, over 3,000 have been processed.