From the U.S. President to the Brunswick County Board of Education, voters will select their preferred party candidates in the 2020 election starting Thursday, February 13, when one-stop absentee balloting begins at five sites.

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, March 3. Assuming there’s no runoff or second primary, voters will again head to the polls in October for the November 3 general election.

How it works, from the county’s website:

“Registered voters may vote only in the primary election of their declared party.

Unaffiliated voters may choose to participate in any recognized party’s partisan primary, or they may request a non-partisan ballot. However, the voter must choose only one party’s primary. Participating in a partisan primary will not affect your status as an unaffiliated voter. The partisan choice does carry over to a second primary if one is called. If you request a non-partisan ballot, you will only vote for those contests that are non-partisan (i.e. judicial contests, referenda, etc.).  The Constitution and Green parties do not permit unaffiliated voters to vote in their primaries.”

Write-ins are not allowed in the primary, although all parties do allow voters to select “no preference” in the race for President. Candidates who are unopposed in their party will not appear on the primary ballot. This includes incumbents state Sen. Bill Rabon (R-NC 8), state Rep. Frank Iler (R-NC 17) and U.S. Rep. David Rouzer (R-7). Similarly, unopposed primary challengers are also not on the ballot, including Democrats Tom Simmons (seeking state House seat NC 17) and Bill Flythe, seeking Brunswick County Board of Commissioners (District 3).

Two Republican county commissioners are unopposed and won’t be on the primary ballot – Mike Forte (District 4) and Frank Williams (District 5).

One-stop voting at the county’s five locations starts Thursday, February 13, and runs through Saturday, February 29. Those wishing to cast mail-in absentee ballots must make their request by Tuesday, February 25.

Changes for voters

There are two significant changes for Brunswick County voters this year.

First is the remapping of state House districts. District 19, now held by Ted Davis (R- New Hanover), has been changed to include a wide swath of the southern and eastern parts of Brunswick County including Southport, Caswell Beach, Oak Island, St. James, Bald Head Island and Holden Beach. District 19 still includes the southern half of New Hanover County. The new map puts Davis in District 20, held by Holly Grange, who is not seeking re-election but is running for governor.

Two Republicans (Charlie Miller and David Perry) and two Democrats (James Dawkins and Marcia Morgan) are running for House District 19.

The new map keeps state Rep. Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) in District 17.

The second major change is the voting method: Brunswick County’s new machines use a paper ballot that is marked by the voter, then scanned by a tabulator.

Early voting

One-stop polling sites are at the Board of Elections in Bolivia, Brunswick Center at Southport, Leland Cultural Arts Center, National Guard Armory in Shallotte and Southwest Brunswick Branch Library in Calabash. The last day for early voting is Saturday, February 29.

On the ballot

Five parties have ballots this season. Green Party members have two choices for President, Constitution Party members have three Presidential choices, and Libertarians have 17 choices for President and two choices for state Senate District 8.

Democrats have 16 choices for President, including several candidates who have withdrawn. They also have five choices for U.S. Senate; three for U.S. House District 7; two for governor; six for lieutenant governor; two for auditor; three for agriculture commissioner; five for education superintendent; three for state treasurer; and two for state House District 19.

Republicans have four choices for President; four for U.S. Senate; two for governor; nine for lieutenant governor; three for attorney general; two for auditor; two for insurance commissioner; three for labor commissioner; three for secretary of state; two for education superintendent and two for state House District 19.

County offices on the Republican primary ballot are Board of Commissioners District 3 (Pat Sykes or Jeff Winecoff); Board of Education District 2 (David Robinson or Catherine Cooke); and Board of Education District 4 (Shirley Babson, Steven Barger or Ellen Milligan).

Election Day

Primary Election Day is Tuesday, March 3. To learn more and see sample ballots, visit www.brunswickcountync.gov/elections.