Less than a month from election day, board of elections offices busier than previous years

Long lines of Board of Elections office in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In four weeks, people will cast their votes for the 2020 presidential election.

However, in times of COVID-19 and questions about the US post office, many people are choosing to vote absentee but return their ballot in person.

The popularity of absentee ballots is apparent when you talk to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections office, who says there’s a constant stream of voters walking in the doors every single day.

“You’re dealing with a few hundred people every day who are walking their ballot in and dropping it off," said Executive Director of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections, Michael Dickerson.

The absentee ballot box, where voters put their vote when the process is done even gets full fairly quickly, staff members say.

The coronavirus is why many are choosing to walk their ballots in, saying they don’t want to risk getting infected walking somewhere on election day. Many voters there said they were in and out in less than five minutes, and felt safer voting this way.

“Because of COVID, I didn’t want to go into lines,” said voter Reyhaneh Shenassa.

“Being an octogenarian, it’s probably safer,” said another voter, Barbara Barnes.

But no matter why they’re voting absentee, or if they’re voting another method, many people at the election office on Monday agree that everyone should get out and vote.

“It’s always important to vote. It’s a civic responsibility," said Thomas Owen, who was there registering to vote. He plans to vote at a poll site on election day.

“The only way we can make a difference is going out there and voting. We can’t complain if you don’t go vote," said Vivian Nkem, who dropped off her absentee ballot on Monday.

Because of these larger numbers of absentee voting, Michael Dickerson says patience is key when you come to drop off your ballot. More than 150,000 absentee ballots have been requested in Mecklenburg County, more than triple than the county’s usual numbers.

“Make sure it’s complete, make you’re doing what you are supposed to do with this and we’ll get your vote in here and get it counted," Dickerson said.

If you mail in your ballot, Dickerson is reminding voters to make sure you fill out your witness signature on the return envelope. That’s a common reason why votes get rejected.

If you drop it off in person, an election worker will make sure that’s filled out correctly. But remember, you will have to fill out an additional form once you’re there and have it processed by and election worker before officially casting your ballot.

“You come in, you have to sign who you are," said Dickerson. "It’s another layer that gives us the security that we’re looking for.”

The board of elections office is gearing up for early voting which starts next week. Voters will have the option to drop off absentee votes at early voting sites as well.

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