The Lincoln County Board of Elections submitted a pair of early voting plans to the state board, which announced its decision following a lengthy meeting on Aug. 5.
The plan selected by the state board is the one that was favored by three of the four local board members. The other plan, submitted by board chairman Charles Newman, differed only slightly in that it offered 36 fewer hours in total among the three early voting sites, which were the same in each plan.
Newman’s rationale, according to an email he sent to the state board, was that implementing the new state-mandated hours at all three early voting locations would result in a total number of early voting hours far greater than in any prior Lincoln County election. Newman argued that his plan — which proposed a total of 447 early voting hours compared to 483 in the majority plan, both of which far exceed the 346 early voting hours administered in 2016 — would “limit the waste of taxpayer money” that would be spent to accommodate the other option.
Newman’s plan shaved 36 hours off of the majority plan by limiting the available voting hours at the Lincolnton early voting site compared to the designated locations in Vale and Denver. Board member Judy Caudill argued in support of the majority plan, highlighting the fact that November’s election will be the first in which City of Lincolnton offices are on the ballot alongside county, state and federal races. Therefore, she said, it’s only fair for Lincolnton voting hours to coincide with those across the county.
With the state board’s approval of the majority plan, early voting in Lincoln County will begin on Oct. 17 and will run until Nov. 3. All three polling locations will operate from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and, unlike in previous years, there will be no voting hours on the weekends except on Nov. 3, a Saturday, when the polls will open from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
The three early voting locations are the James W. Warren Citizens Center on West Main Street in Lincolnton, the East Lincoln Community Center on Optimist Club Road in Denver and the North Brook Community Center on Highway 274 in Vale.
Lincoln County voters will be voting on the district’s representative in Congress, the county’s representative and senator in the state legislature, two county commission seats, three city council seats, three school board seats, clerk of superior court, Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor and a new sheriff, in addition to several other state offices. Voters will also be voting on six proposed amendments to the state constitution.
For more information about early voting or the general election scheduled for Nov. 6, visit www.lincolncounty.org and select the “elections” tab, or call the board of elections at (704) 736-8480.