RALEIGH — North Carolina election officials are encouraging voters to cast ballots during an early-voting period to avoid possible disruptions from Hurricane Dorian.
The state Board of Elections said the early voting period for the Sept. 10 elections ends on Friday.
Races on the ballot include elections for the 3rd and 9th congressional districts. The 3rd congressional district includes most of North Carolina's eastern coast.
Most early voting locations are closed for Labor Day, but they are scheduled to remain open Tuesday through Friday.
The state's emergency management director, Michael Sprayberry, said during a news conference Sunday that North Carolina could begin feeling Dorian's effects as soon as Wednesday night.
The sun set on #HurricaneDorian as it battered the #Abaco and #GrandBahama islands with wind gusts of more than 220 mph today. NOAA's #GOESEast continues to keep watch over the slowing catastrophic Cat. 5 storm. Latest updates: https://t.co/ScLdyBac9D pic.twitter.com/teqJo1RT1k— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) September 2, 2019
Gov. Roy Cooper said the state is likely to see heavy rains, winds and flooding from Dorian even if the storm weakens as it churns toward the state.
"And I urge everyone to take it seriously. The time to prepare is now," Cooper said Sunday after participating in a video conference with President Donald Trump and the governors of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Cooper said the hurricane already was generating dangerous riptides along North Carolina's coastline. Cooper said law enforcement officers and shelter workers were "on alert" Sunday in case evacuation orders are necessary.
Cooper, who declared a state of emergency for the entire state on Saturday, said he also issued an order allowing farmers to use heavier trucks to harvest crops and move livestock more quickly.
"A lot of our farmers are right on the edge right now," he said. "We know that farmers are working through this weekend to try and get what they can out of the field because they know how devastating these storms can be to their bottom lines."
Sprayberry said the state has suspended construction work along major evacuation routes and National Guard soldiers are prepared to deploy if needed.