CARTERET COUNTY — Residents of North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District have just one day left to cast an early ballot in the ongoing special election to select a new U.S. House representative.
One-stop early voting ends in Carteret County Friday with a final session from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Two early voting locations are available, the County Board of Elections office in Beaufort and Western Park Community Center in Cedar Point.
“It’s been really good, there’s been no snags whatsoever,” Interim Board of Elections Director Margot Burke told the News-Times Thursday afternoon as the number of voters visiting the one-stop sites began to tick up.
Previously the county had advertised early voting continuing through Saturday – as the local board had requested in their one-stop plan – but said Friday morning the State Board of Elections only approved one-stop voting in the contests through the end of the work week and the lapse had been the result of a miscommunication. As such, county elections officials confirmed Friday would be the final day of early voting for the primaries.
The special election was called following the Feb. 10 death of longtime U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr., who had previously announced the two-year term he won in 2018 would be his last.
The field of hopefuls for the seat grew quickly, with 17 Republicans seeking the nomination alongside six Democrats and two Libertarian candidates. A Constitutional Party candidate also filed.
Primaries take place Tuesday, though officials have said with so many candidates, they expect a runoff election will be needed. To avoid a runoff, a candidate in a primary contest must garner at least 30% of the vote.
Turnout so far in the primary contests has been fairly anemic, with just shy of 5% of the county’s registered voters having cast an early ballot as of Thursday afternoon.
Elections officials reported 1,378 voters had cast a ballot at the BOE site in Beaufort, while 951 had visited the location in Western Park.
Ms. Burke said she felt things were beginning to improve Thursday, which was the sites’ busiest day since early voting began April 10, and she expected to see even more voters Friday.
“I think things will pick up,” she noted.
Tuesday, all 28 of the county’s precincts will open to take voters.
The 3rd Congressional District covers much of eastern North Carolina, stretching south from the Virginia border past Jacksonville and west to Greenville and beyond, and is home to approximately 517,000 registered voters.
Faced with a condensed timeframe and numerous opponents, candidates have been making spot appearances around the district as they attempt to woo voters and bring in campaign donations to fuel television and other advertising to boost name recognition.
Brief candidate profiles of those competing the primary contests can be found on the News-Times website, carolinacoastonline.com.
The one-stop early voting period will be the last opportunity for unregistered residents to cast a ballot in this primary. Those who wish to participate can take advantage of same-day registration, offered at both one-stop sites Friday.
County Interim Deputy Board of Elections Director Shawne Southard said Thursday only a handful of folks had taken advantage of same-day registration so far this election cycle.
In addition, the BOE approved 28 absentee-by-mail ballots as of Tuesday.
This election is considered a “semi-closed primary,” meaning voters registered to a specific political party cannot vote the ballot of a different party or change their registration during the one-stop period to vote a different ballot.
Voters do not need to present a photo identification to cast a ballot during this election.
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