Over 11,000 in Stanly County voted ahead of Election Day

(Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

ALBEMARLE — Although thousands of registered voters in Stanly County took to the polls on Tuesday, a sizable portion of them had already submitted their votes for the midterm election.

Over 26% of the county’s 43,756 registered voters — a total of 11,379 — cast ballots during the early voting cycle through in-person polls and mail-in absentee ballots.

Early voting ran from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5 at the one-stop voting stations at Stanly County Commons and the Locust Town Center.

Overall, the voting numbers over the past few weeks within the county were elevated compared to the 2018 midterm election, where 9,578 people filled out ballots during a 16-day early voting period at Stanly County Commons.

“I think we had a good turnout this time,” Stanly County elections director Kimberly Blackwelder told the Stanly County Journal on Monday. “About 26% of our registered voters voted early — that’s early and by mail, so anything before election day is absentee. Our one-stop turnout was higher than in 2018, so that’s a good trend to be increasing your turnout every election cycle.”

As the early voting polls closed at 3 p.m. on Nov. 5, registered Republicans had cast 6,199 votes, while Democrats and unaffiliated voters cast 2,107 and 3,057, respectively. Broken down by percentage, 54% were Republicans, 19% were Democrats, and 27% were unaffiliated.

Albemarle’s polling site accounted for 7,127 ballots, while the Locust site tallied up 3,846 ballots; a total of 406 Stanly residents voted absentee by mail this year.

According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, over 2 million of North Carolina’s 7.4 million registered voters (29%) cast ballots ahead of Election Day. With 2,148,035 total votes, it was a 13% increase statewide in early voting compared to the 2018 elections.

Nationwide, over 40 million ballots were cast early ahead of Election Day.

Blackwelder shared her hope for Stanly County’s final Election Day numbers: “I hope we will have at least a 45% turnout or even a 50% turnout, but we’ll have to wait and see. The US Senate is going to pull a lot of voters, and we have a couple of local races and municipal races as well, so hopefully, those will pull interests with the voters.”

On Monday, North Carolina State Board of Elections director Karen Brinson Bell stated in an election board press conference that she hoped for safe and fair elections the following day, although she noted the “raised temperature” of the political climate.

“We have certainly prepared ourselves for scenarios that we have never faced in elections, and we are ready,” Bell said. “We have partnered with our state officials and federal officials, and local officials. We have worked with the North Carolina Sheriffs Association and the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police because if we are unable to de-escalate a situation, we will call in law enforcement. Our number one priority is to ensure that if a voter wishes to cast their ballot, they can do so without interference or without having any impediment to doing so.”