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State Board of Elections, Ethics encourages early voting in Charlotte, Cleveland ahead of Irma

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Charlotte and Cleveland County residents are encouraged to take advantage of early voting opportunities ahead of Hurricane Irma and Tuesday’s primary election.

There is still a good bit of uncertainty about how much North Carolina will feel the impacts of the Category 5 hurricane, but Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina on Thursday to prepare.

The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement sent out a media release late Thursday afternoon encouraging early voting, which in Charlotte and Cleveland goes on until 1 p.m. Saturday.

“We are closely monitoring weather predictions,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the Board. “Early voting ensures your ballot is cast before Irma reaches the Carolinas.”

State law gives Strach emergency authority to alter election schedules in the face of extremely inclement weather, according to the release. The State Board Office on Thursday afternoon encouraged local elections administrators to prepare for emergency conditions and identified a number of factors Strach will consider as Hurricane Irma approaches the state.

The Board has been in contact with meteorologists and emergency officials and is expected to make a final determination about whether to postpone Tuesday’s elections by the end of the weekend.

There is also an election scheduled Tuesday in the town of Murphy in Cherokee County, but there is no early voting there, according to the release.

Elections are scheduled Tuesday in Charlotte, Cleveland County and the town of Murphy in Cherokee County. (Murphy does not have early voting.)

“The safety of voters and election workers is our top priority,” Strach said.