CARTERET COUNTY — For those who live in one of Carteret County’s 11 municipalities, the time has come to vote – early, that is – in local contests.
Elections officials will open three one-stop early voting sites at 8 a.m. Thursday. Any eligible voter in Carteret County can cast a ballot early at any of the sites. They include the County Board of Elections office at 1702 Live Oak St. in Beaufort, Western Park Community Center at 275 Old Highway 58 in Cedar Point and Fort Benjamin Park Recreation Center at 100 McQueen Ave. in Newport.
The sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays through Friday, Oct. 29. One Saturday early voting period will also be offered Oct. 30 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We have all our stuff ready and loaded to go,” County Board of Elections director Caitlin Sabadish reported Tuesday. The office dispatched voting equipment to each of the three sites early Wednesday, where poll workers organized and prepared to welcome voters.
Each one-stop site will be equipped with a full staff of three sign-in computers and help desk, ready to receive voters, though officials expect a somewhat low turnout.
As of last week, a little more than 24,300 of the county’s roughly 52,300 residents registered to vote lived within municipal limits and are eligible to participate in this year’s contests.
Ms. Sabadish reported interest seems fairly low, with few new registrants Friday as registration closed for the municipal contests. As of Tuesday, the office had mailed out just 43 absentee-by-mail ballots.
“I’m still anticipating around 19 percent (turnout), but we do prepare for 100 percent participation,” she said.
That prediction roughly tracks with 2019 – the most recent municipal contest in Carteret County – when turnout came in at 19.71%. But turnout in local elections has been lower, as well. In 2015, just 17.17% cast a ballot.
Those who are not yet registered but are eligible to vote can do so during the one-stop period. To register and vote the same day, be sure to bring a government-issued ID or an official document with your name and address, such as a utility bill.
The BOE is asking one-stop voters to wear masks at the sites, and elections officials will be taking coronavirus safety measures similar to those used in the November 2020 general election. Ms. Sabadish said they have dispatched masks, faceshields, cleaning supplies, sanitizer and more to all three locations. Single-use pens from the 2020 presidential election will be provided to each voter, and an additional worker will be stationed at each site to wipe down surfaces.
The same measures will be in place on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 2.
One change from last fall – “people can expect to get their (I Voted) sticker this time,” Ms. Sabadish said.
To see a full list of candidates in the 2021 municipal contests by town, click here.
Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.