Early voting starts Thursday. Here are 10 tips from the state board.

The first day of the 17-day early voting period in North Carolina starts Thursday. In Watauga County, six early voting sites will open at 8 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. during the week.

On the first two Saturdays, the early voting sites will open at 8 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. On Oct. 31, the last day of early voting, the early voting sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Here are the voting sites in Watauga County:

  • App State – Plemmons Student Union – Blue Ridge Ballroom
  • Blowing Rock Town Hall
  • Deep Gap Fire Department
  • High Country Vacation Homes (Foscoe)
  • Western Watauga Community Center
  • Watauga County Administration Building, Commissioners’ Board Room
The Blue Ridge Ballroom has been prepped by university and election officials for the first day of early voting on Oct. 15. (Moss Brennan)

Matt Snyder, Watauga County director of elections, said staff at each site will sanitize after every voter.

“You will come in and you will see all of our election officials in protective gear,” Snyder said. “We will have shields up, sneeze guards, things to mitigate any COVID risk.”

Each voter will also get an individual pen to use to fill out their ballot.

In preparation for the first day of early voting, the North Carolina State Board of Elections offers the following 10 tips:

  1. Voters may cast a ballot at any early voting site in their county. For sites and hours, use the One-Stop Early Voting Site Search tool. All 100 counties will offer weekend voting options throughout early voting.
  2. Sample ballots are available through the Voter Search tool: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/. For more information on judicial candidates, view the state board’s Judicial Voter Guide. Knowing your candidate choices in advance and being familiar with the ballot will help your voting experience go more quickly. You can find The Appalachian’s voter guide here.
  3. Individuals who missed the regular voter registration deadline may register and vote at the same time during the early voting period. Same-day registrants must attest to their eligibility and provide proof of where they live. For more information, visit https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting/vote-early-person. Individuals who missed the regular voter registration deadline may not register to vote by mail. Their only option at this point is to register in-person at an early voting site in their county.
  4. Voters are strongly encouraged to wear masks, use hand sanitizer and adhere to social distancing guidelines at the polling place. For more COVID-19 precautions at voting sites, visit https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting/voting-and-coronavirus.
  5. Voters who receive an absentee ballot by mail may deliver their completed ballot to an election official at an early voting site in their county. Ballots will be kept securely and delivered to the county board of elections for processing.
  6. Voters who requested an absentee ballot but have not yet returned it may vote in person during the early voting period or on Election Day, Nov. 3. Voters may discard the by-mail ballot and do not need to bring it to a voting site.
  7. To avoid long lines, voters should keep in mind that the busiest early voting days typically are the first and last days of early voting. Voters may find shorter lines during regular business hours.
  8. The state board asks that all voters respect the rights of others to participate in the election. Intimidating any voter is a crime. Voters who feel harassed or intimidated should notify an election official immediately.
  9. Voters at one-stop early voting sites are entitled to the same assistance as voters at a voting place on Election Day. Curbside voting is available for eligible individuals at all early voting sites. For more information, visit https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting/help-voters-disabilities/curbside-voting.
  10. North Carolina law prohibits photographing or videotaping voted ballots. Voters may use electronic devices in the voting booth to access a slate card or candidate information, provided they don’t use the devices to communicate with anyone or take photographs of their ballot.

More information about early voting can be found at https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting/vote-early-person.