Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
The 2020 Presidential Election is on track to have historic turnout rates with more than 43 percent of registered voters in the state already casting their ballots. More than 3.1 million people in North Carolina have cast their ballots as of Monday morning, according to state data. In Macon County, as of Monday nearly 48 percent of registered voters in the county had already cast their ballots.
Over the same time period in the 2016 Presidential election, North Carolinians had not yet hit the million mark for early voters, however the early voting period was also a week shorter in 2016. Nearly 70 percent of North Carolinians voted in 2016.
About 780,000 people have cast absentee ballots, either by mail or dropping them off. That’s about four times as many people who voted absentee in the last presidential election.
A record number of people in North Carolina have requested absentee ballots this year because of concerns over possible exposure to the coronavirus.
All by-mail ballots must be returned in person or have a postmark on the return envelope by 5 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 3.
As the current rules stand, ballots must arrive at county boards of election before Nov. 12 and postmarked on or before Nov. 3. North Carolina is among a handful of states whose deadline for absentee ballots had been contested in court. In Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court ruled that ballots could be accepted three days after the election. A court ruling on Monday said that Wisconsin can count only those absentee ballots that arrive by Election Day — even if they were mailed days earlier. In Michigan, ballots postmarked by Nov. 2, can be counted if they arrive by Nov. 17. In Minnesota, ballots postmarked Nov. 3 will be counted through Nov. 10.
Historically, voters in North Carolina have had three days for absentee ballots to reach their county’s elections board.
To date in Macon County, 9,896 residents have voted. About 2,000 of those votes are Democrats and about 5,000 of those votes are Republican. Another 3,000 votes cast in the county were by unaffiliated voters.
While Republicans lead the way in ballots cast in-person during early voting, Macon County Democrats have voted absentee by mail in larger numbers. According to the Macon County Board of Elections, of the just over 3,000 absentee votes received by the county board, 1,271 votes were Democrat, 842 were Republican, and 942 were Unaffiliated.
In 2016, just 69 percent of registered voters cast a ballot – meaning if Macon County stays on trend, 2020 will see the largest voter turn out on record. Macon County has more than 25,000 registered voters.
Early voting will continue at the Robert C. Carpenter Community Building on Georgia Road through Saturday, Oct. 31 when the polls close at 3 p.m. Election day will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3. On Election Day, voters will cast their ballots at their designated precinct locations between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Polling Places in Macon County are:
- North Franklin – Franklin Town Hall – 95 Main Street, Franklin
- South Franklin – Macon County Public Library – 149 Siler Farm Rd
- East Franklin – Macon County Environmental Resource Center – 1624 Lakeside Drive
- Iotla – Macon County Airport – 1241 Airport Road
- Union – Macon County Community Building – 1288 Georgia Road
- Millshoal – Holly Springs Community Building – 2720 Cat Creek Road
- Ellijay – Cullasaja Gorge Fire & Rescue – 104 River Road
- Sugarfork – Pine Grove School – 38 Peeks Creek Road
- Highlands – Highlands Civic Center – 600 North 4th St, Highlands
- Flats – Scaly Mountain Fire Department – 169 Hale Ridge Rd, Scaly Mountain
- Smithbridge – Otto Community Building – 60 Firehouse Rd, Otto
- Cartoogechaye – West Macon Fire and Rescue – 564 Charles Nolen Road
- Nantahala – Nantahala EMS Building – 1096 Junaluska Road, Topton
- Burningtown – Old Burningtown Fire Department-30 Daves Creek Road
- Cowee – Cowee School – 51 Cowee School Drive