Polls open today in Polk

Published 10:00 pm Monday, November 3, 2014

by Leah Justice

Election polls are open in Polk County today with several important races to choose from.

Early voting experienced heavy turnout with a total of 3,684 voting so far.

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Early, or one stop voting ended Saturday, Nov. 1 at three locations in the county.

Democrats led early voting with 1,266 total votes, Republicans close behind with 1,257 votes, unaffiliated voters with 1,154 votes and Libertarians with seven votes, according to the Polk County Board of Elections Office.

Early voting was done at the Polk County Board of Elections Office, the Green Creek Fire Department and the Mill Spring Fire Department.

Polls locations opened today at 6:30 a.m. with polls closing tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Polling locations include:

Columbus 7 Precinct

Polk County High School, 1681 E. NC Hwy 108, Columbus, 28722

Columbus 8 Precinct

Isothermal Community College, 1255 W. Mills St., Columbus, 28722

Coopers Gap Precinct

Sunny View Elementary School, 86 Sunny View School Rd., Mill Spring, 28756

Green Creek Precinct

Green Creek Fire Department, 8645 Hwy 9 South, Columbus, 28722

Mill Spring Precinct

Mill Spring Fire Department, 66 School Rd., Mill Spring, 28756

Saluda Precinct

Saluda Fire Department, 199 Walnut St., Saluda, 28773

Tryon Precinct

Harmon Field Log Cabin, 299 Harmon Field Rd., Tryon

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.

Proposed 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.