Early voting starts slow

On the first day of early voting in Catawba County, about 54 residents cast their votes for municipal elections. Election officials say the turnout is fairly normal for a municipal election.

By noon on Thursday, 33 residents had visited the Newton Main Library to vote for mayoral, council and school board elections throughout the county.

One-stop early voting continues at Newton Main Library today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and begins at the Highland Recreation Center at 8 a.m. on Monday. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Nearly 100,000 Catawba County residents are registered to vote. Still, election official Bea Sherrill said a slow start to early voting is "pretty normal" for an election that does not include races for president, governor, and state and federal representatives.

“We getting all our ducks in a row before the elections next year,” Sherrill said about the presidential election in 2012. “Next year will be much busier.”

Sherrill said voters within municipal districts need to get out and vote.

This year, there are several municipal races that look to be close.

In Conover, six candidates are vying for three city council seats. In Maiden, seven hopefuls are running for three town council spots. Mayoral races in Newton and Catawba also look to be close.

Jeanette Henley, a one-stop election official, said people don’t realize how important municipal elections are.

“A lot of people like change at the local level,” she said. “It’s good to get more people in the political process at a city or town level, too.”

Voters can register and vote on the same day at the two early voting locations before Election Day on Nov. 8. The sites do offer curb-side voting for those who are handicapped or unable to leave their cars.

“We will accommodate anyone who comes here to vote,” Sherrill said.

On Election Day, voters must visit their home precincts, which include more than 40 locations in the county.

Election 2012
Budget cuts will reduce Catawba County early voting sites in 2012 to one location, and election officials expect a crowd in a presidential election year.

During the 2008 presidential primary, 3,793 voters voted at Newton Library, 3,208 cast their vote at the Highland Recreation Center, 869 voted at the Southwest Library and 532 voted in Sherrills Ford, according to information from the Catawba County Board of Elections.

Next year, only the Newton Main Library will be open to accommodate those early voters.

“For the primary, the four outer parts of the county will have to come all the way to Newton,” said Marvin Bentley, Catawba County elections specialist. “It will probably be a busy day for anyone working in the Newton office."