Early voting begins today


Early voting begins today for the 2020 General Election. One-stop locations in Swain County are Birdtown Rec Center at Birdtown Road, Cherokee, and Swain Board of Elections Office locate at 1422 Hwy 19 South, Bryson City.

One-stop early voting will be held through Saturday, Oct. 31. The hours will be 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays, Oct. 17 and Oct. 24 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Voting will close early the last day of one-stop, Oct. 31, with hours being from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Any registered voter may cast their ballot at either location. Curbside voting will be available for voters who are not able to enter voting sites.

Swain County Elections Director Judy Allmann said yes, she’d encourage people to vote during one-stop. “It’s a safe place. Everything will be sanitized,” she said. “We’re only allowing 10 voters in the building at a time. We’ll have stations set up and keep it flowing smoothly.”

As the United States is still in the throes of a health pandemic, many voters have turned to absentee or mail-in voting. In Swain County, the elections office has had 903 absentee requests. Filing began in September for absentee voting with 419 returned as of Monday. There are just over 9,000 registered voters in the county, so that many absentees are significant.

Completed absentee ballots must be returned to the elections office by 5 p.m. on Election Day. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27. Absentee voting requires the voter to complete an application on the return envelope that must be witnessed by one qualified person or a notary public.

In order to prevent a backlog on election night, Swain County Board of Elections has designated a machine at the office for absentee ballots. At each board meeting, the board reviews the return envelope to make sure it qualifies and then feeds it into the machine. No results will be run until Election Day, Allman said. “That will stop us from being so overwhelmed on Election Day.”

She doesn’t anticipate that the increase in absentee ballots this election season should cause any delay in getting the county’s election results on election night.

Among important messages for voters, Allmann confirmed voters do not need to show a photo ID to cast a ballot in the 2020 General Election.

“Photo IDs aren’t required unless they’ve been flagged, say if they registered online or through another agency and something came back as invalid,” like an address, she explained.

With health precautions in mind, voters will first visit a table during one-stop where the poll workers will have hand sanitizer, masks and even a pen they get to keep, Allmann said.

COVID-19 relief funding has stocked the elections office with cleaning and sanitizing supplies. Allmann said she’s grateful for the funding.

“We’ve been very fortunate though because we did receive grant funding that has helped us get poll workers,” she said.

She also praised her staff including Dean Tripplett (deputy director), Beth Gibson and Kaye Winchester. “They’ve helped me tremendously,” she said.

Voters who are not already registered can do same-day registration during one-top but not on Election Day.

To check your voter registration, visit, ncsbe.gov.

For questions about voting in Swain County, call 488-6177.