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Early voting expands

Beaufort County voters have several sites where they may mark their ballots before the Nov. 6 general election.
Unlike the May primaries and July second primaries during which voters could only take advantage of one-stop, early voting at the Beaufort County Board of Elections office in Washington, this fall voters may vote early at one of three sites.
Voters may use the following one-stop absentee options:
• Beaufort County Board of Elections, 1308 Highland Drive, Suite 104 — Oct. 18-19, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 22-26, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 29-Nov. 2, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 3, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Aurora Community Center, 442 Third St. — Oct. 23, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 30, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 3, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Belhaven’s John A. Wilkinson Center, 144 W. Main St. — Oct. 23, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 30, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 3, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We’ve historically opened those satellite sites in general elections,” said Kellie Harris Hopkins, Beaufort County’s elections director.
One reason for opening the satellite sites is increased voter turnouts during general elections, especially during presidential elections, she said.
“We’re looking at 70 percent turnout compared to 50 or 60 with an off-year general election. So, we have more voters,” she said.
Another reason is the economy, Hopkins noted.
“With the economy, I think the board took that into consideration, thinking that Belhaven and Aurora are still part of the county. With us up here in Washington, there may be some who want to take advantage of one-stop. We’ve provided them with a few days down there. … It gives them an opportunity to exercise that right (to vote) and not have to come all the way to Washington,” she said.
Having voters utilize the early voting option “takes some heat off us on Election Day so our polling places are not overrun,” Hopkins said.
Voters also have the option of requesting ballots by mail, Hopkins said.
“There’s no reason not to vote. You can even vote this year in the comfort of your Lazy Boy in your home,” she said.
Absentee ballots for the Nov. 6 election are available this for voters who want to request absentee ballots. The last day to request in writing absentee ballots is Oct. 30, unless an exception is made because of illness or disability. The deadline to request an absentee ballot because of illness or disability is 5 p.m. Nov. 5.
Absentee ballots must be received by boards of elections by 5 p.m. Nov. 5. If mailed, returned absentee ballots will valid if postmarked on or before Election Day and received no later than 5 p.m. Nov. 9.
The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election is 5 p.m. Oct. 12.
For the Nov. 6 election, polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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