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County's voter turnout tops 50 percent

Henderson County Elections Board Chair Charlie Medd carries a bin of absentee ballots to be inspected. Henderson County Elections Board Chair Charlie Medd carries a bin of absentee ballots to be inspected.

A week before Election Day and with five days left in early voting, voter turnout in Henderson County topped 50 percent. Through Monday, 44,773 voters of the county's total voter roll of 87,089 had cast ballots — or 51.4 percent.

Statewide, 3.4 million voters had cast ballots through mail-in or early one-stop voting, with turnout at 52 percent for Democratic Party, 47 percent for the GOP and 41 percent for unaffiliated voters. The total number of votes cast so far is almost double the number at the same point in the 2016 election. Absentee voting by mail is still available; county elections boards must receive a completed signed request form by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

On the first day of one-stop voting, on Oct. 15, “we voted 2,040 people,” Elections Director Karen Hebb told the Board of Commissioners Wednesday. “We were the highest voting site of anyone in the state.”

Hebb updated the commissioners on security measures the Board of Elections has put in place for early voting and for Election Day on Nov. 3. The sheriff's office has cooperated in the security plan.

"We asked for more patrol at one-stop voting sites," she said. "We asked for security on Election Day precincts and at the elections headquarters," which is not a polling place on that day.

Elections workers are empowered under the law to police activity within 50 feet of each polling place.

"We can’t control basically what happens outside that buffer zone so they have agreed to patrol nearby at all of our sites in the day and also at night and on Election Day," she said. "They have divided the precincts up and assigned them to a captain and they’re going to be responsible for X number of precincts during the day.”
A deputy will visit each of the 35 polling sites in plain clothes before polls open on Nov. 3 and give the chief judge a phone number to call for emergency and non-emergency issues, Hebb said.
“They will not be positioned at the polling site because some people can view that as voter intimidation, so they won’t be there unless they’re called when they’re needed,” she said. "So far during our early voting we have not had any issues at all. There’s been no complaints, everyone’s been real considerate, they’ve gotten along well, it’s been a real good environment.”

Board of Commissioners Chairman Grady Hawkins asked Hebb about complaints he had received about the ballot tabulators at the Flat Rock Village Hall, one of the four early voting sites.
“Apparently, the machine wouldn’t take the ballot and they were just kind of collecting them in a box,” Hawkins said.
“Not true,” Hebb said. “We had some issues at Flat Rock. It’s a small space. It’s hot, and especially with people coming in and going out, they were opening the doors and the air conditioning was not on, so the machine heated up (and) it would not take the ballots.”
Based on the emergency protocol for that situation, instead of feeding ballots through the tabulator, poll workers placed them in the “emergency bin” until a technician arrived to fix the problem. “Once the problem was corrected, we had a poll worker from each party stand and put the ballots inside the tabulator,” she said. “The people that called the office and complained — I offered them to come in the next morning and I would show them the audit papers” verifying that every vote cast had been counted.

One-stop voting

 

Here are the locations, dates and hours for one-stop voting:

 

Board of Elections Office
75 E. Central St
Hendersonville

Etowah Library
101 Brickyard Rd
Etowah

 

Flat Rock Village Hall
110 Village Center Dr
Flat Rock

Fletcher Town Hall
300 Old Cane Creek Rd
Fletcher

Dates and times:

Thursday, Oct. 15, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 16, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 17, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 19, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 20, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 21, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 22, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 23, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 24, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 26, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 27, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 28 , 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 29, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 30, 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 31, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.