BEAUFORT — A small stream of county voters made their way to polls this week as one-stop early voting in the special election primary began.
Voting kicked off bright and early Wednesday morning at two sites in Carteret County and 23 total sites across the 3rd Congressional District, where voters are in the midst of finding a new U.S. House representative.
“It has not been as hectic as I thought it would be,” Interim County Board of Election Director Margot Burke said midday Wednesday.
After a technical glitch at one site as the polls opened, the one-stop locations were up and running promptly, she said.
For the primary contests, the County Board of Elections opened two early voting sites, down from the normal three, amid concerns from the County Parks and Recreation Department about commandeering multiple locations last minute for the special race.
Gov. Roy Cooper called the special election in late February, following the Feb. 10 death of U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr., who died on his 76th birthday after a period of illness.
Despite a crunched election timeframe, a slew of candidates filed, prompting large primaries, particularly for Republicans, who have their choice of 17 candidates.
In addition, six Democrats are vying for the nod to run in the General Election, along with two Libertarians.
One Constitutional Party candidate also filed.
Voters registered in Carteret County can visit the BOE’s offices at 1702 Live Oak St. in Beaufort or the Western Park Community Center at 275 Old Highway 58 in Cedar Point to vote.
The one-stop sites are open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday, April 26.
For the primary contests, there will be one Saturday early voting session, April 27 from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Voters must vote the ballot that matches their registered party affiliation, while unaffiliated voters have their choice of the three ballots, Republican, Democrat or Libertarian. Voters cannot change their party affiliation at the one-stop site to vote a different ballot.
Wednesday, poll workers at the BOE site in Beaufort said they had a slow but fairly steady crowd of residents wandering in the door to vote, calling the first shift of the special election “relatively easy.”
The Western Park site in Cedar Point saw fewer voters, with 148 casting a ballot there the first two days compared to 208 in Beaufort.
Ms. Burke said Thursday afternoon she didn’t have a prediction as far as turnout in this election, though BOE Chairman Rick Heal told the News-Times last month that eligible voters might not be aware the special election is taking place, citing the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Florence among other reasons.
As of February, Carteret County had 49,613 registered voters, while the 3rd Congressional District had 516,725 as of Jan. 1, according to a State Board of Elections report.
Same-day registration is available during the one-stop period, and Ms. Burke said as of Thursday a small handful of county voters had taken advantage of it.
Absentee by mail voting is also underway in the contests.
The interim director advised that while some offices and public buildings will be closed Friday, April 19 for the Easter holiday, both one-stop sites will be up and running as scheduled.
To check your registration status or request an absentee ballot by mail, contact the BOE office at 252-728-8460.
Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.