Early voting starts tomorrow in Polk

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, October 21, 2014


by Leah Justice

Polk County voters can cast their votes early beginning tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 23 for this November’s election.

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One-stop, or early voting ends on Saturday, Nov. 1. Early voting can be done at the board of elections office, the Mill Spring Fire Department and the Green Creek Fire Department. Hours for early voting will include from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday at the board of elections office; from 1 – 7 p.m. at the Green Creek and Mill Spring fire departments Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at all three locations both Saturdays of early voting.

The last day to register to vote or change voter affiliation was Oct. 10 and cannot be done this year during early voting.

Tuesday, Oct. 28 absentee by mail ends.

The general election will be on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at Polk County’s seven polling locations with the Green Creek voting location changed this year from the former Green Creek Family Life Center to the Green Creek Fire Department.

The new voter ID law will not begin until the 2016 election, but voters will be asked for identification during the November election. Voters who do not have identification will be given information on the new law for the 2016 election when identification will be required in order to vote. For information on the new voter ID law, go to the state board of elections website at www.ncsbe.gov.


This year’s election includes several local races. For county commissioner, incumbents Ray Gasperson (D), Keith Holbert (R) and Ted Owens (R) are vying to keep their seats against challengers Shane Bradley (R), Bill Ingham (D) and Lee Mink (D).

Other local races include Polk County Sheriff Donald Hill (D), who is being challenged by Pat Staggs (R).

There are four seats up for re-election on the school board, including the Coopers Gap seat, the Columbus seat, the Green Creek seat and one Tryon seat.

Incumbent Polk County School Board Chair Geoffrey Tennant is being challenged by T. Paul Beiler for the Columbus Township seat; incumbent Sherry Page is being challenged by Jeff Weaver for the Green Creek Township seat and Patrick D. Overholt and Jim Patterson are running for the Tryon Township seat, currently held by James Cowan, who did not seek re-election this year. Incumbent Judy Jackson is running unopposed for the Coopers Gap Township.
Polk County Clerk of Court Pam Hyder (D) is also running unopposed.

This year’s election will also include several state, federal and judge positions and a constitutional amendment.

The proposed amendment will ask voters to make a “For” or “Against” choice regarding amending the constitution regarding how some criminal trials are conducted. If approved, Section 24 of Article 1 of the North Carolina Constitution would be changed to read, “No person shall be convicted of any crime but by the unanimous verdict of a jury in open court, except that a person accused of any criminal offense for which the state is not seeking a sentence of death in superior court may, in writing or on the record in the court and with the consent of the trial judge, waive jury trial, subject to procedures prescribed by the General Assembly. The General Assembly may, however, provide for other means of trial for misdemeanors, with the right of appeal for trial de novo.”

The state constitution currently states that a person accused of a crime and who is not pleading guilty to that charge cannot be convicted unless a jury decides the person is guilty.

If approved, the proposed amendment would allow a person accused of a crime to choose between being tried by a judge or jury. If a person accused of a crime waives the right to a jury trial, a judge would decide whether or not the person is guilty.

Jury trials would still be required in cases with the possibility of a death sentence. Nothing in the proposed amendment changes federal law regarding criminal trials.

The actual proposed amendment on the ballot will read:

“[] For [] Against

Constitutional amendment providing that a person accused of any criminal offense for which the state not seeking a sentence of death in superior court may, in writing or on the record in court and with the consent of the trial judge, waive the person’s right to a trial by jury.”

For more information on this year’s election call the Polk County Board of Election’s office at 828-894-8181 or go to the board of election’s website at www.polknc.org.