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Gaston County preparing for "unorthodox" election

Gaston County's Board of Elections urged absentee ballot voters to carefully read the ballot's instructions before filling it out.

GASTONIA, N.C. — Gaston County's Board of Elections will have more early voting sites and more poll workers for the 2020 general election than in previous years.

In a behind-the-scenes tour of the Board of Elections' headquarters Friday morning, Adam Ragan, the director of elections, said voting places will have plenty of PPE and cleaning supplies for workers.

He said many workers will be staged outside to accommodate curbside voting while voting booths inside will be spaced six feet apart.

He added poll workers will greet voters behind plexiglass and plastic shields with all workers wearing masks. 

Ragan said lines may appear long, but voters may not have to wait long as everyone must be spaced out six feet while waiting for a voting booth. 

"It's a very transparent process," Ragan said. "We joke that we're the frontline of democracy, if you will."

Poll workers continue to organize and count absentee ballots with Gaston County sending out a record 16,865 ballots, as of Friday morning.

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"This is a very unorthodox election," Ragan said. "The volume is intense."

Already, they've had to reject ballots because voters either forgot to sign them or didn't have a witness.

A witness to a ballot can be anyone over the age of 18 provided they aren't a candidate or a nursing home worker, if that voter lives in one.

"Read the instructions," Ragan said. "Once you open that information, there's a set of instructions in there. Read them thoroughly."

Early voting begins on October 15. For more information on elections in Gaston County, click here.

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