Significant updates and changes have occurred since this original audio post above on Oct. 16. It is strongly recommended that you review the new information available in bold below.
UPDATE 5 P.M. WEDNESDAY, OCT. 18, 2023
Mayoral Runoff Election Early Voting Starts 10-19-23
Geocoding issue resolved
UPDATE 4:30 P.M. TUESDAY, OCT. 17, 2023
The Vance County Board of Elections has called for a “recess” in the post-election canvass process – that 10-day window following an election that officials have to verify and certify results.
This action comes one week after the Oct. 10 nonpartisan municipal elections in Henderson that included contests for four City Council seats and a four-candidate field for mayor.
A runoff had been set for the mayoral contest, but those plans also were put on hold earlier today, per the N.C. State Board of Elections. The recess means that none of the contests have been certified.
In a meeting held at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Vance Board of Elections Chair James Baines issued the following statement:
“The Vance County Board of Elections is recessing Canvass completion for the Municipal Election that occurred on 10-October-23 because the State Board of Elections has not yet completed the investigation regarding the geocoding issue. Canvass will reconvene once the State Board of Elections notifies the County Board of the completion of the investigation and resolution to the issue.”
As elections board members explained, the process of certifying election results considers all contests as one process; results must “be submitted to the state at once,” board member Cathy Clodfelter said Tuesday. So because all of the results have not been certified, none of the contests has been certified.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, Vance County Board of Elections Director Jennifer Cocklin informed WIZS News that early voting – set to begin in two days’ time – would not begin as previously announced.
Cocklin read the brief statement to WIZS News from the state board of elections:
“The results of the 10-October-2023 Vance County municipal election have not been officially declared by law, therefore the run-off election cannot be called for at this time.”
A glitch in geocoding is at the heart of the issue, and elections officials acknowledged the state board of the possible problem. As part of election coverage to announce the unofficial results on Oct. 10, WIZS included a statement from Baines that was issued after the polls had closed:
“The Vance County Board of Elections is aware of a geocoding issue that may have caused some voters in the city of Henderson elections to receive a ballot in Tuesday’s election that did not have the correct alderman ward contest. The County Board immediately notified the State Board of Elections, which is working with the county to determine how many voters’ ballots were affected. Election night results are always unofficial, and the post-election canvass process will ensure that the votes are counted correctly for each contest. Election officials will provide additional information about this situation as it becomes available.”
Cocklin provided few details about next steps, but she said she has provided information to the state board as it is requested.
“They’re asking us and we’re providing information as quickly as we can,” she said. “The only thing I know is they are working on it,” she said, “meeting every day – at least once every day.”
Just in case you need a refresher course in civics, here’s some information from the state board of elections website:
“Results on election night are unofficial. Canvass is the official process of determining if the votes have been counted and tabulated correctly, resulting in the authentication of the official election results.
For close elections, the canvass period is especially important. During this time, elections officials count absentee ballots that came in before the deadline and research provisional ballots to determine whether they should be counted.
In every county, the canvass meeting when the results are certified is 10 days after Election Day. Because elections thrive on transparency, the canvass meeting is open to the public.”