With the effects of the pandemic on November’s elections still uncertain, the North Carolina legislature recently passed a bill making it easier to vote by absentee ballot. New Hanover County residents can request their ballots now -- and they’ll be ready to mail out in early September.
The New Hanover County Board of Elections has received close to $221,000 in additional federal and state funds to process absentee ballots and ensure proper safety and sanitation protocols at the polls.
But with the anticipated increase in absentee ballots, much of the money may go toward hiring the additional workers needed for processing. Rae Hunter-Havens is the Director of the New Hanover County Board of Elections.
“Some folks have estimated we may see a percentage increase in the amount of absentee by mail voting from what might be our normal 2% to 4% to as much as perhaps 40%.”
Hunter-Havens says the biggest change in the absentee ballot process is the reduction of witnesses from 2 to 1 person. The witness who signs the ballot can be a family member or a neighbor -- and they need to see the person in the ‘act of voting’.
Hunter-Havens is also seeking younger and healthier poll workers:
“The average age of our officials is probably somewhere between 65 and 70 years of age, [...] so we want to make sure we have an adequate pool of officials.”
Hunter-Havens says county residents can fill out an online form if they’re interested in working at early voting or election day sites.
And as for a reduction in polling sites for the 2020 election, Hunter-Havens says the County Board of Elections will vote in the coming months on which sites will stay open -- and the public will be notified by September 19th.
Early NHC Voting Dates: Thursday, October 15th - Saturday, October 31st
Election Day - Tuesday, November 3rd