DOBSON — Surry County elections officials don’t want local voters to miss out on the chance to cast ballots in one of the most-contentious presidential races in history, for which a deadline is fast approaching.
Friday is the final day to register to vote in the general election on Nov. 8.
For those not presently eligible to cast a ballot on Election Day, registration forms must be submitted to the Surry Board of Elections office in Dobson by 5 p.m. Friday, if delivering in person. That office is located on the lower level of the new courthouse.
If the form is mailed, it must be postmarked by Friday, Oct. 14.
“The post office is no longer required to postmark mail, so we do recommend that if you are mailing it on Friday you take it to the counter and request it be postmarked,” county Director of Elections Susan Jarrell advised.
Registration forms are available at the county elections office or any public library, and can be downloaded from the Surry County Board of Elections website.
Personnel at the elections office also will email a form if someone needs it, Jarrell added.
Citizens unsure of their registration status can check it by visiting the board of elections website and clicking on the “Am I registered to vote?” link.
General registration requirements in North Carolina include being a U.S. citizen and a resident of the county, and before voting in an election one must have lived at his or her residential address for at least 30 days beforehand. Residents also must be at least 18 years old to register, or reach that milestone before the election.
Surry County is mirroring other parts of the nation in terms of enthusiasm for the upcoming round of balloting, Jarrell said Monday.
“We’re seeing much more interest in this election — a lot of people are coming in,” she said of recent activity at the Dobson office.
The general election is headlined by the presidential race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. But it also will feature a showdown for governor between incumbent Pat McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper, and congressional, state legislative and county commissioner races, among others.
Early voting option
While those now not registered to vote must do so by the Friday deadline in order to cast ballots on Nov. 8 itself, those who miss it still can participate in the electoral process via early voting.
The one-stop, same-day registration process — which allows voters to register and cast ballots on the same day — will continue to be in place as it has in the past.
“That is absolutely correct,” the elections director said regarding the early voting period.
It will begin on Oct. 20 at the elections office in Dobson and on Oct. 31 at additional locations in Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and Elkin. Early voting ends at all four sites on Nov. 5, the Saturday before the election.
Qualified voters can cast ballots at any early voting location during that period, and Jarrell is urging local residents to take advantage of this option rather than waiting until Nov. 8.
“Because we feel like long lines on Election Day are going to be unavoidable,” she explained.
Another way to avoid long lines is to participate in the absentee by mail program, which began on Sept. 9.
It allows someone who might be out of the county on Election Day to cast a ballot, or anyone else for that matter. “North Carolina is a no-excuse state,” Jarrell said of a provision that allows one to request an absentee ballot for any reason.
All absentee requests must be submitted on an official state form. Nov. 1 is the last day for citizens to request that an absentee ballot be mailed to them.
“We have mailed out a lot of those,” Jarrell said.
“At this time (Monday), we have mailed out 1,122 ballots.” Of those, 242 had been returned and accepted as of Monday.
“That’s about normal for a presidential election — but it will go up,” Jarrell said.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.