Early one-stop voting began Thursday across North Carolina and nearly 5,000 Twin Counties voters already have headed to the polls.

“We always vote early,” said Al Wallace as he waited in line at the polls Thursday. “We miss a lot of the rush that way and there are only about two weeks to go to the election.”

There were lines Thursday at the old Trade-It building, but they tended to move fairly quickly.

There are several differences in voting this year. Masks and social distancing are required. And no one receives an “I voted” sticker.

“Those were one of the first things to go,” poll worker Melvin Barnes said. “We are just giving out smiles and thank-yous.”

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, roughly 3,200 Nash County voters had participated in early voting at one of four locations. An extra location was added this year to help accommodate the social distancing required during the pandemic.

The newest location added was at the old Trade-It building beside the Olive Garden at 1150 N. Wesleyan Blvd.

Voting usually takes place in the meeting rooms of Braswell Memorial Library. But in order to accommodate social distancing regulations, early voting now will be held in the old Gateway Partnership Building at 427 Falls Road, directly across from the library.

Two past locations also are available this year. Voters can choose to vote at the Nash County Agriculture Center at 1006 Eastern Ave. in Nashville or at the Mt. Pleasant Community Building at 7637 Harris Road in Bailey.

Nash County early voting will extend from Oct. 15 to Oct. 31. The four locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on all Saturdays and from noon to 3 p.m. on Sundays during that time.

At least 1,670 Edgecombe County voters had participated in early voting by 5 p.m. Thursday.

Edgecombe County has three early voting locations open this year. Voting is being offered at the Edgecombe County Administration Building at 201 St. Andrew St. in Tarboro, the Department of Social Services office at 301 S. Fairview Road in Rocky Mount and at the Pines Chapel Missionary Baptist Church at 502 E. Hamlet St. in Pinetops.

All Edgecombe County early voting sites will be open from Oct. 15 to Oct. 31 as well. These locations will operate from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the first two Saturdays.

On Saturday, Oct. 31, polls will close at 3 p.m., according to state law.

No poll locations will be open on Sundays in Edgecombe County.

The number of early voters in the Twin Counties aligns with the increase of voters seen on the first day of the early voting period across the state. As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, 230,000 voters had cast their ballots at the polls. In 2016, only about 166,000 ballots were cast on the first day of early voting.

Voting already had begun for many this year before the polls opened as more residents are turning to mail-in ballots in an effort to avoid the poll locations.

As of Thursday, the Edgecombe County Board of Elections already had received 1,183 absentee ballots. Combined with the early voting numbers from Thursday, at least 2,853 Edgecombe County voters have cast their ballots. In the last presidential election in 2016, 24,965 Edgecombe County residents cast ballots during the entire election period.

In Nash County, at least 6,100 mail in ballots have been received. Combined with early voting numbers, at least 9,300 ballots have been cast in a county that saw 41,865 total ballots cast in the last presidential election year.

The last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27. Ballots must be submitted in person or postmarked by Nov. 3 to be counted in this election.

The General Election will be held on Nov. 3.