Voting demonstration

Election site administrator Janice Carroll demonstrates how to use a voting machine for voters with accessibility needs such as sight or hearing impairments on Oct. 24.

BOONE — Workers in Boone’s early voting sites have seen 334 total ballots cast in the first week through Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Voters in Watauga’s four municipalities — Boone, Blowing Rock, Beech Mountain and Seven Devils — are eligible to vote for town council members and in Blowing Rock’s case, mayor.

Out of the 334 voters, 307 have been in Boone’s election. Fifteen have voted with a Blowing Rock ballot, with six for Beech Mountain and six for Seven Devils.

Early voting is open in two Boone locations, one at the Watauga County Administration Building at 814 W. King St. and the other at the Appalachian State University Plemmons Student Union — located at 263 Locust St.

The Watauga County Administration Building has seen 105 voters as of the end of voting on Oct. 23. Open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays since Oct. 16, it works out to a rough average of one voter every 36 minutes.

The Plemmons Student Union site, which opened on Monday, Oct. 21, has been the far-busier of the two sites, with 229 voters so far. With six hours a day for voting from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., as of Oct. 23 the student union site has averaged one voter roughly every six minutes and 17 seconds.

Voting is open at both sites on weekdays through Friday, Nov. 1. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

The 2017 municipal elections had 2,326 Wataugans, or 11.68 percent of eligible voters, cast their ballot across the four municipalities.

One feature of voting that has been in place for 20-plus years is a seated touch screen for people hard of hearing or vision. The screen can be enlarged and headphones are available. According to Watauga County Administration Building site coordinator Janice Carroll, the device has been popular for people with disabilities.

“The first person who ever used it started crying because they had never voted before without assistance,” Carroll said.

Snyder said that the devices, which Watauga County has had for 20-plus years, print out a paper ballot and are read by the voter tabulation machine just like a regular vote.

The tabulation device reads votes from the page, instead of a barcode like some newer devices do, Snyder said. At an Oct. 15 Watauga County Board of Elections meeting, the board said they’ve gotten lots of emails, calls and been approached by numerous people asking them to reject any device that tabulates votes by reading a barcode on the ballot instead of the actual votes.

At that same Oct. 15 meeting, the elections board passed a resolution to not entertain any voting machine proposals from vendors through the end of 2019.

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