'Checks and balances are in place': NC Election officials work to ensure transparency, voters trust

Michael Perchick Image
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Elections officials encourage turnout, work to ensure transparency
There are steps you can take to ensure your votes are being counted, weather you voted in-person or absentee.

As of Wednesday morning, there have been more than 660,000 votes cast during early voting across North Carolina, including more than 61,000 in Wake County. Elizabeth Masterson was joined by her daughter Lydia Rodgers in casting their ballots.

"I feel like my voice was heard when I put in my ballot. And I feel like after thinking about this for a while, it's really worth it to vote," said Rodgers, who voted for the first time.

"It's exciting. She's the youngest of the crew, so I've encouraged all of our children to vote. So seeing the last one come through and get started, it's really good," said Masterson.

Masterson typically takes advantage of early voting, in an effort to avoid long lines. She expressed trust in the transparency of the elections.

"The process is in place. The checks and balances are in place. And it's up to us the voters to put our votes in, and however the election turns out, we have to be willing to accept the outcome," said Masterson.

"We tested over 165,000 test ballots, what's called logic and accuracy testing, just to guarantee that we would have accurate results on election day," explained Gary Sims, Director of Elections for the Wake County Board of Elections.

There are steps you can take to ensure your votes are being counted, weather you voted in-person or absentee. Through the State Board of Elections website, you can look up your registration status and voter history, which details the previous elections you participated in. The site also allows you to view a sample ballot to confirm your polling location. For those who vote on election day, it's typically recorded online within 10-15 days.

For absentee ballots, you can utilize BallotTrax, which allows you to track your by-mail ballots from the point of your request to when they're accepted.

"Everything we're doing out there, our poll workers are doing it in a bipartisan fashion. Our board - bipartisan board. So we are working through a chain of custody. By the time it makes it all the way out to the polls, the voting locations, we have three judges that work each one of the precincts, they can't all be of the same party," said Sims.

Voter integrity and transparency has garnered increased attention following baseless and false claims over voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election.

"I think there are some worrying signs in this respect that suggest that candidates may not be willing to accept the outcomes of elections, namely in the case of their defeat," said Adriane Fresh, an assistant professor of political science at Duke.

A report from 538 found that 199 Republican nominees running for office denied the 2020 presidential election results.

"I think this rhetoric is worrying and has implications for the stability of our democracy more broadly," said Fresh.

Sims explained poll workers, who are volunteers, undergo training to review process and responsibilities which includes ensuring nobody is campaigning within 50 feet of the voting locations.

"These are your neighbors. It could be a grocery clerk, or a retired school teacher. It could be your uncle or your aunt. These are people in the community. They receive proper training, they take their time out. I've got poll workers who've been doing this for decades now," said Sims.

Early voting runs through Saturday, November 5th. There are fifteen early voting locations in Wake County.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, which is Tuesday, November 8th.

"Why gamble? If you've got (your ballot right now), get it in to us," said Sims.

The State Board of Elections uploads voter totals each morning; nearly nine percent of registered voters cast ballots as of Wednesday morning.

"The way North Carolina laws are written, we actually have to start counting, not tabulating, counting those absentee ballots. We've been for a while now," said Sims.

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