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Political notebook: More than 1.4 million votes cast already in North Carolina

SALISBURY — Of the more than 1.4 million votes cast already in North Carolina, more than about 605,000 have been absentee by mail while the remaining 828,000 have come at early voting sites in the state, according to data released Monday.

The early voting number has increased considerably. As of Friday, 333,000 votes have been cast at one-stop voting locations, meaning that the number of early voters more than doubled over the weekend.

On Friday, the N.C. Board of Elections said current rate of absentee by mail ballots cast is about twice as many as at this same point in the 2016 election.

A plurality of ballots cast so far in North Carolina (absentee by mail and early voting) have been from Democrats, 46.38%, with unaffiliated voters next, at 28.46% of ballots cast. Republican ballots are 24.8% of the total, according to data released Sunday. A total of 7.29 million people in North Carolina are registered to vote. About 2.6 million of those voters are registered Democrats, 2.2 million are Republicans and 2.4 million are unaffiliated.

Also as of Sunday, more than 16,000 votes have been cast by Rowan Countians. A majority of those have come during early voting, though thousands have also opted for absentee by mail ballots. Absentee by mail ballots can be returned in person or mailed to voters’ county board of elections. If mailed, the ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 6.

Data available Sunday, show the partisan breakdown among Rowan County voters is as follows:

• 5,314 Democrats

• 6,185 Republicans

• 4,093 unaffiliated voters

• Two Constitution Party voters.

• Seven Green Party voters.

• 38 Libertarians.

Those numbers mean Democrats in Rowan County are disproportionately turning out to vote early. About 42% of voters in the county are Republicans, while about 26% are Democrats and 31% are unaffiliated.

 

Nonpartisan organization calls for all veteran ballots to be counted before election is called

CARY — With the rise in absentee ballots cast this election, a nonpartisan organization is calling for all veteran votes to be counted before winners of the 2020 election are declared.

The organization includes a coalition of veterans, military families and supporters of the troops who are rallying to ensure no one claims victory for the presidency before every single service member’s vote is counted.

“They honor our country by serving, and now it’s on us to honor their voice in our democracy,” said communications consultant Joshua Perrin on behalf of the Count Every Hero initiative.

Marjorie Eastman, a post-9/11 veteran and author who lives in Cary, said the Count Every Hero initiative can hopefully shift how elections are called moving forward.

“Every service member’s vote should be counted before a winner is declared,” Eastman said, adding that doing so could “shift our anchors on what we think should happen on election night.”

Eastman said the initiative is intended to create awareness, and is backed by veterans across the nation and across the aisle, adding that the initiative is a positive reflection of how veterans put politics aside when tackling a mission.

Eastman said it’s especially important for veterans’ votes to be counted since they turnout in high rates during election cycles. In the 2012 and 2016 general elections combined, approximately 821,000 ballots were dispatched overseas to members of the armed services. And about 80% of overseas military personnel who voted in 2018 did so by mail, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Veteran voters also tend to be concentrated in some decisive swing states, including North Carolina. Currently, 570,019 absentee ballots have been cast in North Carolina, with more than 13,000 among military and overseas voters.

“Essentially, altogether, our votes are a swing state,” Eastman said. “We absolutely could decide the election.”

Eastman served in the U.S. Army Reserves for 10 years after joining in February 2002. During that time, she served in two combat tours, with one deployed out of Fort Bragg.

 

DOJ establishes local contacts for 2020 General Election

GREENSBORO — U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin announced Thursday that Assistant U.S. Attorney JoAnna McFadden has been appointed to serve as the district election officer for the Middle District of North Carolina.

McFadden will be responsible for overseeing the district’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights concerns in consultation with the U.S. Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“Fair and trustworthy elections are the cornerstone of our constitutional democracy. Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination, and to have that vote counted,” Martin said in a statement. “The Department of Justice will act promptly and appropriately to protect the integrity of the election process, but we need public involvement to ensure that elections are both free and fair. If you have specific information about election fraud, discrimination, or interference with voting, please call the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the FBI immediately.”

Martin’s efforts are intended to protect against election fraud or voting rights concerns and ensure those complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities.

McFadden will be on duty for this district while polls are open. She can be reached by the public at 336-333-5351.

Additionally, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency throughout the country to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on election day. The local FBI office can be reached by the public at 704-672-6800 and callers should ask to speak with the election crimes coordinator.

Federal law protects against such crimes as intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input. It also contains special protections for the rights of voters and provides that they can vote free from acts that intimidate or harass them. For example, actions of persons designed to interrupt or intimidate voters at polling places by questioning or challenging them, or by photographing or videotaping them under the pretext that these are actions to uncover illegal voting, may violate federal voting rights law. Further, federal law also protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted in voting by a person of their choice (where voters need assistance because of disability or illiteracy).

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws also can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., by phone at 800-253-3931 or by complaint form at civilrights.justice.gov.

In the case of a crime of violence or intimidation, citizens should call 911 immediately and before contacting federal authorities as state and local police have primary jurisdiction over polling places.

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