Are you still registered to vote? Inactivity could complicate election day for some voters

Published 12:10 am Sunday, September 18, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — If it’s been a while since you last voted in a general election, you may be forced to cast a provisional ballot in November.

Since the last presidential election in 2012, the Rowan County Board of Elections has removed more than 17,000 people from voter rolls in Rowan for various reasons.

Of the county’s remaining 92,642 registered voters, a total of 17,465 — nearly 19 percent — have an inactive status attached to their registration because they haven’t voted for several years.

Regardless of how long it’s been since a person voted, poll workers cannot deny him or her the right to vote because of inactivity. However, the process of voting may be more complicated because of that inactivity, according to Rowan Elections Director Nancy Evans.

Those voters would be able cast a provisional ballot, which requires approval from the Rowan County Board of Elections before it could counted. Evans said the approval would come after the elections board ensures the voter was previously registered in Rowan.

Evans said voters who haven’t cast a ballot in four general elections may have been removed from voter rolls.

She encouraged all voters to check their registration, make changes or register for the first time before Oct. 14. That’s the deadline to register if you want to cast a ballot in this November’s general election.

“For the voters, we don’t want them to be inconvenienced,” she said. “We want everything to go smooth for them on election day.”

Voters are mailed a card after not voting in two general elections, Evans said. If it the card comes back as undeliverable, the Board of Elections can change a voter’s status to inactive. The person can still vote; however, an inactive status starts a timer for eventually being removed from voter rolls.

If a person has an inactive status and doesn’t vote in the following two general elections, the Board of Elections can remove the person from voter rolls.

In 2016, a person who hasn’t voted since the 2006 general election may have been removed, according to Evans.

People will also be removed from voters rolls after being convicted of a felony or after moving and registering to vote in another location.

“If people aren’t sure if they are on the books, they should call us,” Evans said. “It’s really easy for people to get registered or re-registered.”

The Rowan County Board of Elections’ number is 704-216-8140. The office is located in West End Plaza — the former Salisbury Mall — at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. W., Suite D10. The entrance to the office is inside the mall, next to Badcock Furniture.

The address attached to a person’s registration is one item Evans encouraged voters to check before election day, especially if the person has moved recently.

During early voting, which starts Oct. 20 at the Board of Elections, people can register, make changes to their registration and vote on the same day. On election day, Nov. 8, same-day registration and changes will not be allowed, Evans said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.