Officials work to count absentee, early ballots

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — In all of North Carolina’s 100 counties, two democrats and one republican are counting up absentee and early ballots ahead of the release of the 2012 election totals.

In Forsyth County, those three people are Linda Sutton, Jonathan Dills, and Michael Flatow, better known as the Forsyth County Board of Elections.

Most votes are read by a machine, but when the machine has trouble with a ballot, it goes to the Board to be read by actual human eyes. A staffer then reproduces the ballot, and it’s fed back into the machine.

On election day, boards of election also deal with tricky issues like the rare cases in which a voter voted early and then died or was convicted of a felony.

Guilford County’s Director of Elections George Gilbert said that decision is up to the three board members.

“Then the question becomes is their eligibility to vote based on when they voted or is it based on when election day is?” Gilbert said.

On this day, the board determined that felons’ votes are not eligible but those of the dead are.

Chairman TJ Warren said the ineligibility of felons is stated clearly in election law while, according to Warren, there is no law that says a person must be alive on election day to have his or her vote counted.

These are the types of issues every county board will deal with on election day. Though they face varying issues, Jonathan Dills said they have the same goal.

“If people care enough to cast their votes we’re going to care enough to make sure that they get counted and counted right,” Dills said.