Board working to prevent General Election errors

Board working to prevent General Election errors
April 28
06:00 2016




After a tumultuous primary, the Forsyth Board of Elections is hoping to fix voting issues ahead of what is expected to be a very high turnout General Election.

Forsyth BOE Director Tim Tsujiin said during the Thursday, April 21 BOE meeting that he’s expecting a 77 percent turnout of registered voters with more than 92,000 ballots cast on Election Day.

“I will say, Forsyth versus all the other counties in the state, we turn out,” said Tsujii, who became elections director on Feb. 29.

The stakes are high in this election, with congressional, General Assembly, local and judicial races, City Council and a hotly contested presidential contest all on the ballot. The board is taking steps to prevent issues it had in the March 15 primary from happening again during the June 7 primary for U.S. House of Representatives and N.C. Supreme Court.

Election volunteer Jane Dougherty brought up one of those problems during the public comment session. She was scheduled to be a judge on Primary Day, but was called into another precinct in Kernersville to be a fill-in chief judge.

Voters who weren’t registered came in and were given a provisional ballot. Poll workers also printed out small slips crammed full of information for those voters to fill out, like their name, address and party affiliation. Though their vote most likely wouldn’t count because they’re un-registered, the slip ensured they would be registered the next time they vote. Unfortunately, the signature line needed to complete the registration didn’t print out and Dougherty

said she was unaware they needed to sign, so those voters remain unregistered today.

“I have to say I’m very distressed because I work very, very hard to do right by my voters,” she said. “As a last minute fill-in judge maybe that’s why I didn’t verbally hear that they should sign that form. The last time I worked an election was two years ago, so if I heard it back then I certainly had forgotten it.”

This was not isolated to her precinct, as it happened to 194 voters during the primary.

Tsujii said that letters are being sent to each of those voters in hopes of getting a signature before the June primary. The signature line not printing out also happened to registered voters, causing more than 100 provisional ballots to be discounted. Tsujii has previously said they will not be using the same program again and will instead use a manual process. He informed the board that the State Board of Elections is still doing its due diligence of the March primary and that staff is ready if the state board asks them to revisit those ballots. Tsujii met with Democracy NC leaders earlier last week, who wanted those ballots to count, a call the State BOE would have to make.

There were also 101 absentee ballots received at the Forsyth BOE the day after the primary that were discounted for having no postmark. Instructions that are included in the absentee packet will now highlight the need for a postmark in red. Forsyth BOE is also adding a sticker about postmarks to the return envelope included in the package and the information will eventually appear on the envelope’s flap when the BOE orders new ones. By state mandate, any voter that requested an absentee ballot for the March primary will also get one for the June primary.

The extremely close South Ward Democratic contest will be held again during the June primary because poll workers accidentally gave some voters the wrong ballot style that didn’t have the race on it, and others who shouldn’t have voted in it received a ballot that included the race. Tsujii said poll workers will be getting ballots from marked folders this time to avoid confusion.

Tsujii said there will also be more training opportunities, which will include simulation based training, for poll workers.

Tsujii is also exploring the possibility of transitioning from paper ballots to computerized voting machines at the request of BOE member Fleming El-Amin. El-Amin said it was “archaic in 2016” to still use paper ballots. During the comment session, South Ward Democratic City Council candidate Carolyn Highsmith, who won the March primary by six votes before the State BOE ruled to re-do the race, also asked the BOE to use voting machines instead of paper ballots, which she said were error prone and used by only four other counties in the state.

By state mandate, all BOEs will have to use a paper based system by 2018. This means any machine will have to produce a paper ballot. The touch screen voting machines used by the county during early voting will have to be replaced, since the paper it prints results on is not a ballot.

Early voting for the General Election will be discussed in upcoming BOE meetings. The early voting plan is due to the State BOE by July 29th.

About Author

Wali Pitt

Wali Pitt

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors