Jadwin votes

Sue Jadwin took time to vote an absentee ballot Friday afternoon at the Dent County Courthouse. Officials in the clerk’s office say absentee voting has been brisk for the Aug. 4 primary election, where political parties pick candidates to place on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. Also on the ballot next week is the initiative for Medicaid Expansion.

Many of the same changes voters saw in the June 2 election will be seen again when they go to the polls for the Aug. 4 primary next week.

The main difference is they’ll have to choose a party ballot: Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Constitution or Green party, county clerk Angie Curley said. Which candidates are on the ballot will depend on where the voter lives and the ballot chosen.

There is no mask requirement to vote.

“It is optional for you to wear a mask; it’s optional for our poll workers to wear a mask,” Curley said. “We will have sneeze guards up. We will have lots of sanitizing of the booths going on in between voters, wiping down booths, wiping down pens.”

Pens are disposable, but the voters can take those with them. It’s a stylus pen that can be used to sign the poll pad with one end and fill out the ballot with the other end. Voters can also bring in their own pen, as long as the ink is blue or black.

Registered voters only need to present a valid form of ID. “A lot of voters bring their voter card or a valid driver’s license,” Curley said. “Anything issued from the government, an ID that has a name and address on it, you can use that and show that to the poll worker.”

Polling places will also be emphasizing social distancing, asking voters to stay six feet apart if there’s a line. Dent County voting locations are the DCFPD firehouse and old city hall in Salem, all four rural schools, Macedonia United Baptist Church at Boss and the Bunker city hall.

She reminds voters that no electioneering, including the wearing of candidate hats, t-shirts and buttons, is allowed at polling places.

She also stressed that voters can only vote in one commissioner’s race, the one in the district the voter lives in. Their district is listed on their voter card. Some voters are confused from seeing signs placed in the wrong districts, she said.

After showing an ID, the poll worker will bring up the voter’s name in the poll pad. If all the information is correct, the voter will choose a party preference, be given a ballot and go to a booth to vote. Once voting is complete, they feed the ballot into a machine.

Curley reminds everyone to make sure any change in address and other information has been updated at her office before coming in to vote Aug. 4.

“Please do that as soon as possible because we’re getting closer to loading our poll pads and getting those ready for election day,” she said. “That will also help with long lines on election day, because otherwise you’re going to have to fill out an address change form that day at the polls or possibly be sent to another location.”

Absentee voting, with an accepted excuse, is still underway. The deadline to mail out absentee ballots was last week, but absentee voting will continue at the county clerk’s office until 5 p.m. Aug. 3.

Curley said she’s received less than five requests for mail-in ballots, but over 180 for absentees, with more walk-ins expected.

The county will be offering absentee voting under the new law that passed for the August and November election, with a seventh excuse for absentees related to COVID-19, an illness or if a voter is 65 years of age or older.

“If you fall under that excuse you can come into the office and vote,” Curley said. Eligible illnesses include serious heart condition, liver disease, chronic lung disease, kidney disease, on dialysis, diabetes or severe asthma.

Another excuse for absentee voting still in place from prior elections is confinement due to illness or physical disability or caring for a person who is incapacitated or confined due to illness or disability, she said.

“You have to show up in office or call us, and we will go out and do curbside voting if you’re ill or disabled,” she said.

On election day, polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.