Thursday, May 30, 2024

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Local elections board posts final results for municipal races

Alamance County’s board of elections convened at the county’s elections office on Friday to finalize the results of this month’s municipal elections.

During Friday’s meeting, the board updated the vote count from Election Night to include 27 ballots that hadn’t been previously processed and remove two others that had been cleared for inclusion but which the county’s elections staff has since deemed ineligible.

Among those that were added into the tally on Friday were 13 mail-in absentee ballots that had been property postmarked by the day of the election but which were a little late in reaching the county’s elections office.

The board gave some additional scrutiny to one of these ballots because it had come back to the elections office with a photo ID exception form. Although state law requires voters who submit ballots by mail to include copies of their photo identifications, this particular voter was apparently unable to procure a photocopy in time. The voter nevertheless provided a driver’s license or social security number that sufficed to render the ballot acceptable.

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The board went on to review 33 provisional ballots that had been filled out on Election Day –14 of which were ultimately deemed worthy of joining the final tally.

All of these ballots had been cast by individuals who, for one reason or another, weren’t authorized to vote when they showed up at the polls on the day of the election. Karyn Newcomb, a member of the county’s elections staff, noted that 11 of these individuals didn’t appear in the voter rolls at the polling station they visited but were later discovered in the county’s voter registration system.

“The majority of them didn’t go to the correct precinct,” Newcomb went on to explain, “but they did vote on the right ballot.”

The board agreed to accept these 11 ballots along with three others that were submitted with voter ID exception forms. The board rubberstamped these exceptions based on guidance from the N.C. Board of Elections, which advises its local counterparts to sign off on any exception that isn’t shown to be demonstrably false.

The board rejected the remaining 19 provisional ballots based on staff recommendations. According to Newcomb, four of these ballots were submitted by voters who had registered after the deadline to take part in this month’s election. Five others were found to be either “active” or “inactive” in other counties; three had been previously removed from the county’s voter rolls; and seven had no registration records at all.

Dawn Hurdle, the county’s elections director, observed that, in absence of some disqualifying factor, any provisional voter who wasn’t previously in the voter registration system will be deemed fully registered for the next election by virtue of their provisional ballot.

After a 20-minute break, the board reconvened to review two other ballots that were previously authorized but whose eligibility has since been called into question by members of the elections staff.

The voter who cast one of these ballots had apparently passed away since she voted by mail with the help of a “multiparty assistance team,” which the elections office dispatches to aid voters who are bedridden or immobile. Because this voter was no longer alive on Election Day, the board of elections voted to invalidate her ballot, which had apparently not yet been factored into the Election Night totals.

The board also agreed to pull another ballot that had been cast during the early voting period ahead of this month’s general election. The county’s staff had subsequently discovered that the individual who cast this ballot is a convicted felon whose rights of citizenship have not been restored.

Hurdle emphasized that the elections office had sent this individual a notification by certified mail to inform him that they could challenge the staff’s determination at Friday’s meeting. The board of elections took the voter’s absence to mean that he didn’t object, and its members resolved to remove his selections from the Election Night tally.

The upshot of all these adjustments for the Election Night tally was ultimately announced by Homer Ashby, one of the three Democrats who serve on the bipartisan board of elections.

“After canvassing,” he said using the jargon for finalizing the count, “it doesn’t seem that any of the election results have changed.”

THE PUBLIC ASKS: What about provisional ballots?  Are they counted only when needed to decide a particular race?

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