Early voting begins in Beaufort County

Published 1:03 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

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By Clark Curtis, For the Washington Daily News

Beaufort County voters began casting their ballots on Thursday, Oct. 19 as early voting started for the upcoming municipal elections on Nov. 7. The only location where they will be able to vote early in person is the Beaufort County Board of Elections at 1308 Highland Drive, Suite 4. The polls will be open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, Nov. 3rd. The last day to cast an early ballot will be on Saturday, Nov. 4, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

New Voter ID Law

This election is the first since North Carolina implemented the new voter ID law. The executive director of the Beaufort County Board of Elections, Kellie Harris-Hopkins, explained that voters will be asked to show some sort of photo ID when they show up to vote, which can include a valid drivers license, Department of Motors Vehicle ID, US Passport, a college or student ID, military ID, a travel enrollment card, or a voter ID obtained from the board of elections. However, Hopkins pointed out there are options should an individual come to vote without a photo ID.

“For those who do not have a valid photo ID on election day, they may still vote by signing an ID exception form, explaining why they have not presented a valid ID. For those who simply forgot to bring their photo ID, they will be asked to fill out and sign a provisional ballot, which will be placed in an envelope. They will then have ten days to come to the office and show their valid photo ID and their ballot will then be counted, but it must be done by 5 p.m. on the tenth day following the election,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins was quick to stress that she doesn’t want anyone to not come out to vote even if they don’t have a photo ID. “There are exceptions and accommodations in place to deal with any situation that might come up,” said Hopkins. “The last thing we want is for folks to not come out and vote because of the new voter ID law.”

 Canvassing Process

Hopkins also wanted to assure voters that everything possible is being done to ensure a fair and secure election. The routine canvassing of ballots begins ten days after the election. This is when the Board of Elections staff begins the audit of all of the returns to make sure there is nothing suspect. “We want to confirm that every ballot cast has a voter attached to it,” said Hopkins. “We will look at machine tapes and audit those to make sure if there are say 100 voters that there are 100 ballots. We also audit the authorization to vote forms.”

Hopkins noted they review all provisional ballots and determine whether those votes can be approved. The day after the election the board will hand count the ballots from two randomly selected precincts by the state board of elections. And if the margin of victory by all votes cast is one percent or less, candidates can request a recount. “The number of voters who are suspicious or have questions about fraudulent votes has increased exponentially over the last few years,” said Hopkins. “We are trying our best to reassure them we are doing everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen here.”

 Common Courtesy

Hopkins urges voters to show common courtesy to the precinct officials, in lieu of the many instances that have occurred over the last several years. “Voters need to remember that these people are our friends and neighbors,” said Hopkins. “They are from your community, not some outside political group. And although they do get paid a small amount of money, they are all volunteers. The elections of Beaufort County are conducted by the citizens of Beaufort County, who are also registered voters.”

Absentee Voting

  1. Ballots can be picked up at the Board of Elections or mailed to individuals upon request.
  2. Your ballot must be returned with a photocopy of your ID
  3. If doing so by mail, it must be postmarked by election day, Nov. 7, and received by 5 p.m. no more that three days after the election
  4. Ballots can be hand delivered to the county board of elections no later that 5 p.m. on election day
  5. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 31, by 5 p.m.

Election Day

  1. The polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  2. Voting will take place at assigned voter precincts, not the Board of Elections

Additional Questions

Those with questions are urged to go to the Beaufort County Board of Elections website, https://beaufortncboe.org/.