Elections board chairman, civil rights leader Dorothy Yarborough has died

Dorothy Yarborough, head of the Alamance County Board of Elections and a long-time local civil rights leader, has died.

[Editor’s Note: visitation and funeral arrangements have been updated below.]

Yarborough, 74, had been in declining health since around last November, when she missed a number of meetings of the board of elections which she chaired after the 2022 general election.

Yarborough, a Democrat, was appointed to the board by the current governor, Roy Cooper, also a Democrat, in 2019, and she has served as chairman of the five-member board during most of that time; Yarborough appointed her as chairman of the board in July 2021.

Yarborough had been active in both the NAACP and the Committee on Civic Affairs, which she headed for many years.

Yarborough’s elections board tenure had been mostly noncontroversial except for a charge made in 2021 that she had allegedly improperly influenced Green Level’s town council election during municipal elections of that year.

The allegation was that her instructions at a candidate forum event on how to fill out a write-in ballot properly had unfairly given an advantage to write-in candidate Jose McBroom and helped him win a seat on the town council.

But at a hearing by the remaining members of the board, she was unanimously exonerated, 4-0, found not guilty by both the two other Democratic members of the board, as well as the two Republican members.

Visitation will be at Sharpe Funeral Home Friday afternoon from 1:00 – 5:00; additional services will be held at her home church, Ebenezer United Church of Christ, 734 Apple Street, Burlington, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Friday and at 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning to be followed by the funeral itself at 11:00.

Among those expressing regret at Yarborough’s passing was Michael Graves, a former chairman of the local NAACP.

“She was a giant in this community,” Graves said. While acknowledging Yarborough’s role as both a Democratic party leader and a civil rights leader, Graves said Yarborough’s motivation “was not a party thing, it wasn’t a race thing. It was a human being thing. She cared for everybody.”

Dawn Hurdle, the county’s elections director, has been quick to acknowledge the contribution that Yarborough has made to the electoral process in Alamance County.

“She was a great asset to us,” Hurdle said in an interview Tuesday, “She knew a lot, and she made a real impact.”


Dorothy Yarborough at the retirement party of elections director Kathy Holland (far right) in December 2021; new elections director Dawn Hurdle is in center.
Yarborough with judge Larry Brown during his installation ceremony in the Historic Court House in 2017. Brown is the county’s first black jurist.
Yarborough spoke at a meeting of the Alamance-Burlington board of education in August 2022.
Yarborough speaking at a county commissioners meeting in 2018.
Yarborough speaking during the Nov. 16, 2021 board of elections hearing on whether she had unfairly intervened in the Green Level town election. She was found not guilty of the charge.