What you need to know on Election Day

Moss Brennan, Reporter

The 2020 election is expected to bring a record-breaking turnout. Watauga County is set to break the total vote for the 2016 election in which 30,241 people voted — a 65.33% turnout. 

Over 23,500 people have voted early so far in the county.

During early voting — which ends Oct. 31 at 3 p.m. — people can vote at any site. But on Election Day, voters have to vote in their assigned polling place.

In Watauga County, the board of elections dedicated 14 sites for Election Day voting which will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

Any voter in line at their assigned polling place at 7:30 p.m. can vote.

Because of COVID-19, the board of elections has moved many voting sites to school gyms in the adjacent precincts because they allow for more social distancing. 

Six precincts — Boone 2, Elk, Boone 3, New River 3, Stony Fork and Beech Mountain — are at the same site this year. All others are at new sites. 

Voters can use the North Carolina polling place search tool to find their Election Day voting location and precinct. 

Many on-campus students are split between the Boone 2 and Boone 3 precincts. Many students living on West Campus vote at the Agricultural Conference Center while many living on East Campus vote in the Plemmons Student Union. 

If a voter shows up at the wrong precinct to vote — which happened frequently during the March primary — they can vote with a provisional ballot. 

Provisional ballots are used when questions arise about a voter’s qualification to vote, the voter’s eligibility to vote in a given election or the voter’s eligibility to vote a specific ballot style.

All provisional ballots are returned to the county board of elections, where staff have 10 days to understand why a voter used a provisional ballot and whether it is valid. Then, the staff provides the results of the investigations to the county board of elections.

The board will inform the voter if there are additional steps that need to take place to approve a ballot.If the provisional ballot is approved, the ballot is removed from its sealed envelope and counted. 

Election results are not finalized until all eligible provisional ballots are counted. During the March primary, Watauga County Director of Elections Matt Snyder said about half of the provisional ballots are counted while the other half aren’t. 

According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the peak times for Election Day voting are in the morning and right before polls close. To avoid a long wait, the board recommends people vote during off peak times. 

Voters can not register to vote on Election Day. If a voter is not registered, they can still register at a one-stop early voting site. After early voting ends, they cannot register to vote. 

A voter has to be registered in Watauga County to vote on Election Day.