RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – Some voters are asking the North Carolina Board of Elections why records from last week’s election have not been added to their voter histories in a public database.

State and local elections officials have a short answer to those queries: We’re getting to it.

35,000 absentee ballots have already been mailed out to voters in Guilford County.
Guilford County Board of Elections will certify its vote county on Friday.

Final mail-in votes were collected and counted by 5 p.m. Monday, and 100 county boards are in the process of meeting to canvass and certify those votes.

In the 10 days following every election, each county elections board researches provisional ballots, processes and counts absentee ballots of eligible voters that arrive after Election Day, conducts required audits and possible recounts, considers protests and certifies results, the BOE process stipulates.

For instance, in Wake County, there were 5,927 absentee ballots received Nov. 8-14 that had to be cured, approved and added to the total, board member Gerry Cohen reported on his Twitter account.

County certification is to be completed by 11 a.m. Friday. The state BOE’s final certification meeting is set for 11 a.m. on Nov. 29.

But that didn’t stop the BOE from releasing answers to questions that have emerged around the state.

“We believe this is the direct result of certain groups spreading false and misleading information about this process in an attempt to sow distrust in our elections,” officials said in a release.

Charlie Collicutt, Guilford County’s elections director, said his office “had calls – nothing overwhelming or anything.”

Tim Tsujii, elections director in Forsyth County, said his office had received no questions. An official in Rockingham County did not respond immediately to an email.

Here’s what happens

The BOE’s release describes the process used in each county to update the public database that shows a person’s registered affiliation, where votes had been cast and which party’s ballot was selected for a primary. For whom you voted is protected by law.

In North Carolina, after you turn in the paper ballot you marked during the election, the record must be converted into the electronic database, which is a manual and time-consuming process.

“The release is correct – election day voting credit is a manual process that takes time,” Collicutt said, “but we’ll get it done as soon as we can.”

In North Carolina, there were 3,753,927 ballots submitted in this election, which is 50.65% of registered voters or about 35.58% of North Carolinian’s total population. In Collicutt’s county, that’s 186,240 (or 49.24% of registered voters). You get a sense of the workload.

Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the NC Board of Elections (AP Photo/Bryan Anderson)

“If you inserted your paper ballot into a tabulator on Election Day, your vote was counted and reported as part of the unofficial results on election night,” Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the state Board of Elections, said in the release. “Unfortunately, some groups are spreading misinformation about post-election processes and encouraging voters to contact election officials.

“When election officials spend time and resources responding to false information about elections, it takes time and resources away from completing required post-election tasks, including assigning voter history to voters’ records.

“We encourage all voters to seek information about elections from trusted sources, especially state and county elections officials. The processes we have in place comply with state and federal laws and have been in place for many years.”

Increasing harassment

Harassment for elections workers and volunteers has increased dramatically since former President Donald Trump spread unfounded claims about voter fraud before and after the 2020 election, when he lost to President Joe Biden. Some of this harassment has risen to the level of threat.

Claims of election falsehoods led to the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, for which hundreds have been arrested and charged, and it also sparked grass-roots organizations that seek to disrupt processes and search for corruption that is not happening.

Although there were demonstrations in Arizona where individuals protested the methodical process of counting votes, enflamed to do so by election deniers who lost, there were few other immediate problems relative to the vote reported across the country.

But there are groups, such as NC Audit Force (a chapter of a national organization), who meddle in elections with an agenda to limit access for voters. One of its members caused major problems for elections officials in Surry County before the midterm election despite there being no election issues in that county.

There have been only rumors and misinformation during this election process, such as those that emerged from rumors in Rockingham County. There was also the false claim that Sheriff Terry Johnson did not appear on all ballots in Alamance County.

There were 59,798 ballots cast in Alamance County, and 59,486 voted in Johnson’s victory over Democrat Kelly T. White, in which Johnson received 58.9% of that total. It’s not unusual for some voters to skip or overlook voting on some races.

Irregularities

If there were to be any claims against individual voters, they would not become public until they were filed with the NC BOE. Elections officials review all claims about irregularities and refer some to investigators, as appropriate. Those that are found to be spurious are then referred to county elections directors and prosecutors for action.

Mark Harris

The most notorious recent case involved the 2018 race in the 9th Congressional District, in which Republican contractor McCrae Dowless was found guilty of orchestrating a scheme to manipulate mail-in ballots in Bladen County. That overturned the election of Republican Mark Harris, who did not participate in the special election required when the BOE threw out the vote.

His seat went to Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte), an election denier who moved to a redrawn 8th District for last week’s election. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-Moore County) moved from the 8th to the 9th. Neither represents Bladen County.

The BOE also is investigating the voter registration record of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, the last chief under Trump, because he was registered in more than one state and at an address in Macon County where he never had lived.

Questions and answers

In its release, the BOE provided answers to some basic questions. We are including a few of those here.

How can I find my voter history?

You can find your voter history through the State Board of Elections’ Voter Search tool. Enter your first and last names as they would appear on your voter registration and click “Search.” From the resulting list, click on your name, which displays in blue type. Scroll down to the “Your Voter History” section.

How do I know if the vote I cast on Election Day was counted?

A: If you voted in person, you inserted your ballot directly into a tabulator at your voting place. When you did this, the number of ballots cast on that machine increased by one. Your selections were recorded on a memory card in the tabulator, which had been tested for accuracy before the election. At the end of Election Day, the results stored on the memory card were added to results from other voting sites in your county, and those total results are displayed on the State Board’s Election Results Dashboard. Your vote was counted.

Does when my voter history record gets updated affect whether my vote was counted?

No. When you inserted your ballot in the tabulator on Election Day, your selections were counted and ultimately reported on election night as part of the unofficial results. Your voter history record is updated after the election through an administrative process. This voter history process has no effect on the results of the election.

If I vote on Election Day, how exactly does a county board of elections assign voter history to my record?

When you present to vote at your Election Day polling place, you sign an Authorization to Vote (ATV) form before you receive your ballot. After the election, the county board of elections uses this ATV form to assign voter history to your voter record in the state elections management system. This is a manual data entry process. Once voter history is complete, the State Board posts voter history information on its public website. And when a voter searches their registration record on the State Board’s website, the system displays their voter history.

Where can I find accurate information about elections?

The state’s ncsbe.gov or your county board of elections.