DOBSON — Though Election Day itself is not until Nov. 8, hundreds of people have already taken advantage of the early voting program in Surry County.
“When we opened up this morning at 8:15, we probably had 35 to 45 people in line,” county Director of Elections Susan Jarrell said late Thursday afternoon of the scene at the board of elections office in Dobson.
“By around 4 p.m., we had processed 730 voters,” Jarrell said of an unprecedented total for the first day of early voting in Dobson, which is open to residents countywide. The previous high there for an election at that point was 632 voters.
“We usually don’t have that much business,” Jarrell said of early voting at the Surry Board of Elections, located on the lower level of the new county courthouse, which ballooned to 797 people by the end of the day Thursday. “We’re very pleased.”
Of the total reported for Thursday, 24 people were new registrants. They took advantage of a provision available during the one-stop, early voting period in which those who missed a regular registration deadline for the Nov. 8 election can register and also cast ballots by displaying a valid form of identification.
The fact so many local residents came out Thursday to get an early start on the electoral process mirrors the voter enthusiasm exhibited throughout the 2016 general election cycle, with a ballot headlined by the hotly contested race for president.
“I think there’s that much interest in this election,” Jarrell said.
Other sites to open
So far, early voting is available only at the Dobson location, but other sites will allow that later this month in Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and Elkin.
Early voting will resume in Dobson today and also will be offered there next Monday through Friday and the same days the week after that, from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Nov. 5, the Saturday before the election, early voting will be conducted there from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m.
On Oct. 31, early voting will extend to:
• Mount Airy, at the Surry County Human Services Center, located off U.S. 601 at 1218 State St., behind Arby’s.
• Pilot Mountain, at The Pilot Center of Surry Community College, located at 612 E. Main St.
• Elkin, where balloting will take place at The Elkin Center of Surry Community College, 1461 N. Bridge St.
The voting schedule at all three sites is 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 31 through Nov. 4 and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 5.
Jarrell said there has been some confusion about when the other locations besides the one at Dobson are open, pointing out that several people attempted to vote early Thursday at the Human Services Center in Mount Airy.
Eligible county residents can cast ballots at any of the four early voting sites, and do not have to show an ID.
On Nov. 8, voters must go to their assigned precincts. Also, unlike early voting, anyone not registered is prohibited from voting that day, due to not meeting the Oct. 14 deadline for regular registration.
Jarrell is urging citizens to utilize the early voting period for that and other reasons.
“We encourage everyone who is ready to cast their ballot to do so at an early voting site,” the elections official said.
“We expect a very busy day on Election Day,” Jarrell added.
“Also, if there is a need to update names or addresses, it’s much less time-consuming to do that during early voting than on Election Day.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.