Nancy Evans column – We've come a long way since paper ballots NC agents raid office, seize bullion and coins
By Nancy Evans
For the Salisbury Post
The Elections Department started full-time permanent registration in 1968, its first office in the 100 block of West Council Street.Some big changes in our past included:
– Change from counting paper ballots by hand to the purchase of a punch card voting system in 1977. We changed to an optical-scan voting system in 1999.
– National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) allows registering by mail and registering at state agencies. No more taking oath in front of election officials to register. Other changes were implemented along with the NVRA but are too numerous to list.
– The Elections Department operates on a state computer system.
Our office has a three-member board appointed every two years. Precinct officials (poll workers) are appointed every two years. Allare appointed in the odd years. The office is funded by the county but governed bythe State Board of Elections. – We receive and process registrations and changes daily. With every transaction processed a postcard is generated to be mailed to the voters with their polling place and other registration information. If the voters’ information cannot be processed they are mailed a letter requesting the information needed. Currently we have more than 91,000 registered voters in Rowan County.
– Every odd year it is required to do list maintenance. This means we mail postcards to all registered voters that we have had no contact with for two years.
– We file candidates for all 10 municipalities, county offices, and state house and senate offices.
– We maintain and audit campaign reports for candidates required to file.
– We train workers, program voting tabulators, test equipment, order, organize supplies for pickup and delivery of 44 precincts in the county and five one-stop (early) voting sites. Our one-stop (early) voting sites are open around two weeks before the election. Results election night are tabulated at the elections office and placed on the county Web site.
– We also saw the redistricting of congressional and legislative lines. Rowan County is no longer represented by one elected official per county in these districts. This has caused different ballot styles due to the districts within Rowan County, which means that one area of the county may vote on a district that another area may not.
Our office always has challenges due to all the changes in the laws and our small staff, but we will always strive to give our citizens confidence that we provide fair and open elections which accurately reflect the intent of the voters. We pride ourselves as “the keeper of democracy.”
Our short-term goal is to continue our one-stop (early) voting sites for the convenience of our voters. In the November 2008 election, we processed more voters during this time than on election day. This is the way of the future.
Our long-term goal is moving into a larger facility with sufficient space where we can store records, complete preventive maintenance and test our equipment. We also would like to provide a place where voters have easy access with parking.
Nancy Evans is director of the Rowan County Board of Elections.