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Lively electioneering — and a big Cawthorn sign — gather attention

Roger and Priscilla Cawthorn show their support for their son at the early voting site at the Henderson County Board of Elections. Roger and Priscilla Cawthorn show their support for their son at the early voting site at the Henderson County Board of Elections.

Electioneering has been lively at the Henderson County Board of Elections and voters have complained “over and over” about a highly visible Madison Cawthorn sign voters can’t miss as they walk into the one-stop polling place.

But in the high holidays of democracy, electioneering is legal as long as candidates and campaign workers remain beyond a protective buffer zone, Elections Director Karen Hebb said.

Candidates and surrogates in the Republican primary for the 11th Congressional District — a race in the national spotlight because Cawthorn is the incumbent — have been competing for voters’ attention at the elections headquarters, one of four early voting sites that has been open for the past two weeks. Early one-stop voting ends today at 3 p.m. today at the Board of Elections, 75 East Central St., and the other locations: Etowah Library, 101 Brickyard Road; Flat Rock Village Hall, 101 Village Center Drive; and Fletcher Town Hall, 300 Old Cane Creek Road.

Turnout and at times tempers have been running high, Hebb said Friday. Through Thursday, Henderson County ranked 10th in the state in the number of early voters. Overall, mail-in and in-person votes totaled 8,781 — trending Republican by a more than 3-to-1 margin, 6,529 to 2,252. The total of 8,781 votes cast had already surpassed the total from 2018, of 5,780.
“I do know we’ve had numerous complaints” about electioneering, Hebb said. “As long as they’re outside the 50-foot buffer zone, we can’t really control them. People drive miles out of their way to avoid them. Nobody wants to be talked to.”
IMG 1141The large Cawthorn campaign sign fastened to a split-rail fence atop a retaining wall is on private property, Hebb said, and beyond the authority of elections officials.
Except for a mild admonition on Thursday to move their yellow beach umbrella to make way for voters walking into the polling place, the Cawthorn team has been within the rules, Hebb said.
Roger and Priscilla Cawthorn, parents of the 26-year-old freshman congressman, have been out there every day. Asked whether they’d been fighting with their rivals, Roger Cawthorn said no. He admitted to correcting other campaigns when they’ve said, for instance, that Cawthorn doesn’t have former President Trump’s endorsement.
“Only when somebody tells a lie, pointed out the lie, that’s all,” he said. “Nobody’s fighting. If anybody’s fighting you’d think I’d be arrested.”