CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Changes are in place in Mecklenburg County this year as residents vote in an election during a pandemic.
UPDATE: VOTING HAS ENDED IN THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, BUT BALLOTS ARE STILL BEING COUNTED
To register to vote in the general election, Mecklenburg County residents must be:
- A U.S. citizen; and
- A resident of North Carolina and Mecklenburg County for 30 days; and
- At least 18 years old (must be 18 by November 3 to be eligible to vote).
- An individual may pre-register up to two years before their 18th birthday.
- An individual who is 17 years old may vote in any primary associated with a general election that will occur after that individual turns 18.
October 9 was the deadline to register to vote, but same-day registration is still an option.
To register to vote, you must not be currently serving a felony sentence, including any probation, post-release supervision, or parole. Residents may register and vote if they’re serving an extended term of probation, post-release supervision, or parole, or have outstanding fines, fees, or restitution, and do not know of another reason that their probation, post-release supervision, or parole was extended.
“When you are convicted of a misdemeanor in North Carolina, you do not lose your right to vote, even if you are incarcerated,” N.C. State Board of Election officials say.
Those who are not registered to vote were able to register at early voting sites during the early voting period (October 15 - October 31). After registering, residents were able to immediately vote early at that same site.
Same-day registrants must attest to their eligibility and provide proof of where they live by completing and signing a North Carolina Voter Registration Application. The voter must prove their residence by showing any of the following documents with their current name and address:
- North Carolina driver’s license
- Other photo identification issued by a government agency. Any government-issued photo ID is acceptable, provided that the card includes the voter’s current name and address.
- A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document showing the voter’s name and address.
- A current college/university photo identification card paired with proof of campus habitation.
Within two business days of the person’s registration, the county board of elections says they will verify the registrant’s driver’s license or Social Security number, update the voter registration database, search for possible duplicate registrations, and begin to verify the registrant’s address by mail.
Any voter registered in Mecklenburg County was able to request an absentee ballot from the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections prior to the last Tuesday before an election by completing the Absentee Ballot Request Form. No reason was needed to receive and vote by mail-in absentee ballot.
The form can be mailed or hand delivered to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections, faxed to 704-319-9722, or emailed to absentee@mecklenburgcountyn.
If you are Military, immediate family of Active Military, or a US citizen overseas, please visit FVAP.gov to register and request your ballots.
To verify receipt and processing of your request online, email email@example.com. If mailed, residents must allow 10 days to receive and process and if emailed, the receive and process takes four days.
How to vote if Sick or Disabled after the request deadline for an absentee ballot?
Sick or disabled voters may apply in person or have a near relative or verifiable legal guardian apply in person at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections office and a Ballot will be hand delivered to you. The offices are located at 741 Kenilworth Ave, Suite 202.
This option is available after 8 a.m. on the Wednesday prior to each election but not later than 5 p.m. on the Monday before each election.
One-stop early voting
Registered voters were able to cast an absentee ballot in person during the early voting period. The one-stop early voting period began Thursday, October 15 and ended Saturday, October 31. During this period, voters were able to cast a ballot at any early voting site in their county. (This is different from Election Day when registered voters must vote at their assigned precinct).
Find early voting sites in your county with the One-Stop Early Voting Site Search.
There are 33 one-stop voting sites for the General Election in Mecklenburg County, with locations in Charlotte, Cornelius, Huntersville and Matthews. Eligible individuals may register and vote during the one-stop early voting period. See the chart below with those dates, times and locations.
Every voting site in North Carolina offered curbside voting this year for voters who are unable to enter the voting place without physical assistance due to age or disability. This includes those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Mecklenburg County officials say the term “disability” means voters:
- Are unable to enter the polling place due to age or physical or mental disability, such as agoraphobia;
- Have a medical condition that puts you at increased risk of COVID-19;
- Should not wear a mask due to a medical or behavioral condition or disability; or
- Are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
- ln North Carolina voters use paper ballots, marked either by hand or with a ballot-marking device, providing a paper trail of all votes cast that can be audited or recounted by elections officials.
- All 100 counties comply with federal law by having ballot-marking devices available at every polling place for any voter who needs or wishes to use one to mark a ballot independently.
- As of 2020, voting systems from three different vendors – Clear Ballot, Election Systems and Software (ES&S) and Hart InterCivic are approved for use in North Carolina elections. The systems of two vendors – ES&S and Hart – will be used in the 2020 elections.
- All voting systems used in North Carolina are certified by the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and the State Board of Elections after undergoing mandatory testing by nationally accredited laboratories. All systems used in North Carolina have been tested, used, and audited in other states.
- Each of the 100 county boards of elections, in conjunction with their county board of commissioners, decides which approved voting system will best serve their voters. County purchase of any new system may only come after public demonstrations of the equipment and test use in an election or simulated election event.
- Once certified as a voting system in North Carolina, the vendor must deposit the system’s source code with the state’s approved escrow agent, post a bond or line of credit (currently $17.01 million) to offset the cost of a new statewide election, and establish an office with support personnel in the state.
- Under state law, voting equipment may not be connected to the internet or use wireless access, limiting the possibility of outside interference
Three voting options are available for voters this year during the pandemic: absentee by-mail, in-person early voting and Election Day voting. Voters who cast their ballots in person will find safeguards in place at early voting locations and at Election Day precincts, including social distancing, free hand sanitizer, single-use pens, personal protective equipment for poll workers, and frequent cleaning of voting sites and equipment.
County leaders say the following precautions will be made at voting sites to protect voters and election officials against the spread of COVID-19:
- Enforcing social distancing at polling places and early voting sites
- Providing hand sanitizer and masks for voters and election workers who do not bring their own
- Providing gloves and face shields for election workers
- Erecting barriers between election workers and voters at check-in tables
- Providing single-use pens in counties that use hand-marked paper ballots and Q-tips for voters who use ballot-marking devices
- Frequently cleaning surfaces and equipment in polling places and early voting sites
- Recruiting poll workers who are less vulnerable to the virus
State Board of Elections Chair Damon Circosta discussed voting during the pandemic.
County election leaders say they are in need of chief judges, judges, provisional/transfer assistants and equipment assistants.
“Elections can’t happen without citizen involvement,” county leaders say. Pay ranges between $100.00 and $200.00 for the day, depending on the position. Training classes pay $25.00. There is also a $15.00 payment for helping set up the polling place the day before the election.
Mecklenburg County has the potential to host three (3) elections each year: a Primary Election, a Second Primary Election, and a General Election.
Each precinct’s voting location must be staffed with a Chief Judge, a Republican Judge, a Democratic Judge, a Provisional/Transfer Assistant and an Equipment Assistant.
The three judges (chief, Republican, and Democratic) are appointed by the three member County Board of Elections based on political party and staff recommendations. Assistants are selected by the chief judge based on experience and staff recommendations.