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Ask Us: Readers ask questions about Shober Bridge, voting safeguards

Editor’s noteAsk Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to askus@salisburypost.com.

SALISBURY — City staff on Friday said handrails on the Shober Bridge would be repaired as soon as this week. New handrails were installed by the end of the day Monday.

The handrails were hit by a car overnight on Sept. 26, said Salisbury Public Works Director Craig Powers in response to a reader question. The broken handrails on a section of the bridge, which carries North Ellis Street over railroad tracks, were replaced with yellow caution tape for a couple weeks before Monday.

There are more extensive repairs coming to the bridge, and Powers said there’s a tentative start date of March 8, 2021, for more those, which will require a temporary closure. In recent months, it’s been more difficult to purchase lumber, Powers said, which has caused delays in making repairs.

Because of its style and that it’s made of timber, repairs are required more frequently to the Shober Bridge than other types of bridges.

What procedures are in place to prevent voting in two jurisdictions?

A reader also asked about what procedures are in place to prevent people from voting in two locations and, more specifically, college students from voting in Rowan County and their hometown — whether that’s in North Carolina or another state.

First, to register to vote in Rowan County, the person needs to live here for at least 30 days prior to the election. And when registering to vote, documents ask the person to state whether he or she is currently registered in another North Carolina county or state. The form asks the person to include a first, middle and last name; previous address; and county of last registration.

“This information will be used to cancel your previous voter registration in the other county or state,” North Carolina’s voter registration form states.

Rowan County shares a common system with other North Carolina counties. So, elections staff could alter in-state registrations the same day, said Rowan County Elections Director Brenda McCubbins. The system would also show if someone has already cast a ballot.

After acknowledging receipt, the North Carolina State Board of Elections was unable to fulfill a request submitted Sept. 18 for information about changing registrations between states. A spokesperson said the request was close to completion on Oct. 1.

A report by the National Association of Secretaries of State originally released in 2009 and updated in 2017 sheds some more light on how the process works.

“States authorize a variety of methods for identifying voters who have moved, including data from a U.S. Postal Service database, address confirmation mailings, undeliverable mail, door-to-door canvassing of residents, and information from the department of motor vehicles,” the document’s executive summary states.

A section within the report for North Carolina pulls language from state general statutes and says, “If an applicant indicates a current registration in another state, the county board of elections will send a notice to the appropriate officials in the other state.” The same report also says, “A voter will be removed from the registration list upon receipt of a notice of cancellation from an election jurisdiction outside the state.”

The National Council of State Legislatures says it’s most common for states to use the phrasing that it’s illegal to vote more than once “in the same election.” The Voting Rights Act also prohibits “voting more than once.” But the council said it has been unable to find a case where someone was prosecuted for voting in multiple states in the same election.

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