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By Peter Vankevich

North Carolina is the first state in the nation to begin absentee voting and requests for ballots is exponentially higher than four years  ago.

As of Sept. 2, The NC Board of Elections reports that 591,379 absentee ballots have been requested. By comparison, in 2016, only 36,467 requests were made by the same date.

The three highest ballot requests are Democrat 312,922, Unaffiliated 183,174 and Republican 93,478.

As of today, Hyde County has received 110 requests for absentee ballots.

Statewide, there are 7,087,350 registered voters as of Aug. 29.

There are several ways to request an absentee ballot. Starting Sept. 1, North Carolina voters may request an absentee ballot completely online, which, according to state election officials, is another way to improve the voting process in 2020.

The State Board of Elections has collaborated with Democracy Live to introduce the onlineAbsentee Ballot Request Portal to assist any North Carolina registered voter in requesting an absentee ballot. The State Board website, NCSBE.gov, includes a link to the portal. The portal also allows military and overseas (UOCAVA) voters to request and return their absentee ballot online.

“At the state board, our goal is to ensure all voters can cast a ballot, whether in person or by mail,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “The Absentee Ballot Request Portal will streamline voting by mail for voters who choose this voting option.”

Absentee ballots will be mailed beginning Sept. 4.

For Hyde County, voters can also pick one up during business hours at the Board of Elections Office, 1223 Main St., inside the Public Safety Building, Swan Quarter, or call 252-926-4194 to have one mailed.

Below is the Ocracoke ballot. Mainland Hyde County voters will get the same ballot but without the Ocracoke Sanitation seat. Likewise, Engelhard and Swan Quarter townships will have a sanitation seat on their ballots.