North Carolina election officials say voters in two localities should consider casting ballots during in-person early voting because of uncertainty for next week's primary due to the path of Hurricane Irma.
Charlotte and Cleveland County both offer early voting through 1 p.m. Saturday for Tuesday's primary elections. Irma could affect western North Carolina weather Monday and Tuesday.
State elections board executive director Kim Strach has authority to delay or alter elections due to extremely inclement weather. A board news release says a decision will be made on whether to postpone Tuesday's elections by the end of the weekend.
Strach says early voting ensures a voter's ballot is cast before the storm arrives.
Another election is being held Tuesday in Murphy, but the state board says the town doesn't offer early voting.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says people from the mountains to the coast need to be vigilant preparing for Hurricane Irma even as projections have a weakened storm entering the state well inland early next week.
Cooper said at a media briefing Thursday that the system could still affect from people across the state - a key reason why he issued an emergency declaration statewide. The State Emergency Response Team is readying for the storm with rescue teams and staging areas in Kinston, Greensboro and Asheville. Emergency management director Mike Sprayberry says more than 300 National Guard soldiers are being brought in to help and more are available.
Nick Petro with the National Weather Service in Raleigh says heavy rain and inland wind damage could result in extended power outages, with possible mudslides in the mountains. He says dangerous surf and rip currents should be anticipated at the coast.
North Carolina election officials are watching closely the path of Hurricane Irma in case primary elections in the state's largest city and elsewhere have to be delayed next week because of the storm.
State law gives elections board executive director Kim Strach emergency powers to alter an elections schedule because of a natural disaster or extremely inclement weather.
Charlotte holds primary elections for mayor and city council Tuesday. The board says the only other elections being held that day are in Cleveland County and in Murphy.
Charlotte's elections in September 1989 were delayed because of Hurricane Hugo.
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