Early voting starts October 15 in Rutherford County at two new locations.
Social distancing will be observed at both the Spindale House on Main Street, Spindale and the County Annex building at 289 North Main Street Rutherfordton.
Early voting will not take place at the Board of Elections office on Fairground Road as it has in years past.
Although this information has been widely reported and promoted, many local residents are still not aware of the change.
Weekdays the voting will run 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. There will be no Sunday voting, but 15 days of early voting are scheduled from October 15 until Halloween, October 31. Saturday voting will end at 6 p.m. on October 17 and 24 and at 3 p.m. on October 31.
According to the local board of elections website, "Until further order of the court, voters are not required to show photo ID. The law was enjoined by a federal district court on December 31, 2019."
As in years past, the county will open 17 voting locations on election day.
Requests for absentee ballots have broken all records. In 2016, only 1039 county residents cast absentee ballots. Last week, the number of requested ballots had already hit 3885.
Absentee ballots returned as of Monday were 1417.
Elections director, Dawn Lovelace, who has worked for the board for 15 years said, "I sort of knew what I was getting myself into, but nobody could have predicted this virus. It's a whole other issue."
Early voting sites will be professionally cleaned and disinfected prior to the October 15 beginning of early voting. Poll workers will be trained in how to clean high-touch surfaces. Social distancing will be encouraged in the lines waiting to vote, but also in the actual voting booths.
Hand sanitizer and masks will be available to all voters, but Lovelace added, "Voters are not required to wear masks. Our workers are required to wear masks and some, who need them, will be wearing face shields. Also sneeze shields will separate our workers, the kind you see in stores."
Lovelace said results will be known on election night since paper ballots are counted by machine, but not tabulated. Each machine will be closed out on election night.
"We will have results by 7:30 or 7:40," Lovelace said. The absentee ballots will be reported first.
30,310 people voted in the presidential election four years ago.
Actual election day is November 3.