FOREST CITY — The violent weather Thursday morning affected early voting in Rutherford County, as the electricity was out for hours at the polling site at the Spindale House, on Tanner Street.
According to Dawn Lovelace, Rutherford County elections director, the power went out at approximately 7:55 a.m. A few people who came to vote at the site were referred to the Rutherfordton voting site at the Rutherford County Office Building on Main Street, until a generator could be activated.
“We had discussed these possibilities,” Lovelace said. “But I really did not think this would happen early in the morning. Rutherford County Emergency Management Director Frankie Hamrick was very helpful to us, in getting the generator and lights set up.”
Board of Elections staff remained onsite in Spindale throughout the outage.
During the One Stop Early Voting Period, citizens may vote at either of the two voting sites regardless of where they live. On Election Day, voters must vote at their assigned precinct, according to where they live.
Because of the weather, which led to numerous power outages across Rutherford County Thursday, voting was not as strong as it would have been according to election officials.
Friday and Saturday are the last two days of the early voting period.
“I think these final two days of early voting will likely be heavy,” Lovelace said. “Some intending to vote on Thursday probably decided to wait until Friday or Saturday.”
Early voting across Rutherford County, North Carolina, and throughout the United States has been breaking records.
As of mid-day Thursday, more than half of those registered to vote in Rutherford County had already cast ballots either through early in-person voting, or with mail-in ballots.
Board of Elections officials have processed 3,742 mail-in ballots. There have been 18,579 in-person ballots cast. A total of 24 military mail-in ballots have been received along with another 44 overseas ballots.
“These numbers are huge,” Lovelace said. “This is record-breaking.”
Statewide, as of Thursday afternoon, 3,079,045 people had voted during in-person early voting. A total of 867,944 had cast ballots by mail. These numbers make up more than half the total number of registered North Carolina voters.
“We still have two more days of in-person early voting,” Lovelace said. “We encourage those who can, to vote early.”
Election officials continue to encourage COVID-19 safety protocols.
“Practice social distancing, and we hope you will wear a mask,” Lovelace said. “We will give you a mask if you need one, though masks are not required in order to be allowed to vote.”
The two early voting polls will be open Friday from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Voters who receive an absentee ballot by mail may deliver their completed ballot to an election official at one of the early voting sites or the Board of Elections office, Fairground Road, Spindale. Voters may not drop their ballots off at a polling place on Election Day.
Voters who requested an absentee ballot but have not yet returned it may vote in person during the early voting period or on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. They may discard the by-mail ballot and do not need to bring it to a voting site.