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With all ballots counted, Rowan improves on record turnout

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The last time Rowan County reached a 75% voter turnout rate was 1984, when Ronald Reagan was elected to a second term as president. And after counting hundreds more ballots Thursday night, the county beat that record.

The Rowan County Board of Elections met Thursday evening to count the remaining 332 absentee by mail ballots and approve 175 provisional ballots. By end of election night, 73,175 ballots had been cast in the county. That includes Election Day voting, early voting and absentee by mail ballots accepted by Nov. 3.

But that number grew to 73,662 Thursday night, amounting to a 75.59% turnout.

That rate is slightly higher than the total turnout in 1984, when 75.28%, or 38,124 Rowan Countians, cast a vote in that presidential race. By contrast, approximately 68%, or 64,650, of registered voters cast a vote in the 2016 presidential election.

Included in the absentee by mail ballots were two cure letters, which were resolved and ultimately counted. Those ballots had to be resolved due to a missing voter signature and an incomplete witness address.

Of the 175 provisional ballots accepted, 13 were considered partial ballots because those voters were not eligible to cast a vote in the state House race that they marked on the ballot, said Rowan County Elections Director Brenda McCubbins. But all other races on the ballot in which votes were cast were counted.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the county board of elections officially closed the absentee by mail and provisional ballot tabulators, meaning no more absentee by mail ballots will be accepted. The board will meet today at 11 a.m. to formally canvass the election. The state board of elections will update its voter history data and formally canvass the election on Nov. 24.

The state reports 1 million absentee by mail ballots cast, with 92,300 absentee by mail ballots requested but not yet returned. But any remaining absentee by ballots counted in other counties had to be received by 5 p.m. Thursday and postmarked by Nov. 3.

Last week, the state reported 40,766 provisional ballots left to be counted or rejected. County boards have met since to continue accepting absentee by mail and provisional ballots, though not all provisional ballots are ultimately accepted.

Despite the “very crazy election season,” McCubbins said she thinks everything went well.

“I’m very pleased with everyone that worked with us and for us,” McCubbins said.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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