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Sennica Nicholson, chairperson for the Vance County Board of Elections, and Michele Brigandi, aging program coordinator with the Kerr-Tar Agency on Aging, appeared on WIZS Town Talk Wednesday at 11 a.m. as part of a paid advertising sponsorship with the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments.
Nicholson discussed voting requirements, voter registration, absentee mail-in ballots, early voting and answered some commonly asked questions. “We are in a very busy voting season,” Nicholson stated. “It’s no longer just an election time; we are now in an election season.”
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Basic voter requirements, according to Nicholson, include being at least 18-years-old, being a U.S. citizen and not being incarcerated.
The last day to register to vote in the November General Election is Friday, October 9, 2020. Forms submitted to the Vance County Board of Elections Office must be received by 5 p.m. on that date.
Those that miss the October 9 deadline can register and vote during one-stop early voting. Early voting begins October 15 and ends October 31, 2020.
Vance County’s early voting will be held at the Henderson Operation Center (900 S Beckford Dr., Henderson) and Aycock Recreation Complex (307 Carey Chapel Rd., Henderson). There will be no early voting at the Vance County Board of Elections Office for this election due to COVID restrictions.
Proof of residence is required to register to vote; however, no photo ID is required for this election.
Nicholson recommends that all first-time voters, as well as those who haven’t voted in some time, contact their local BOE office to make sure they are “on the books.” If there does appear to be an issue with registration, the BOE office can assist.
Vance Co. One-Stop Early Voting Schedule for the November 3, 2020, General Election
Locations: Aycock Recreation Complex and Henderson Operation Center
Absentee Mail-In Ballots
Addressing absentee ballots, Nicholson clarified, “Absentee mail-in ballots and voting by mail are the same thing. Anyone in NC can request an absentee ballot as long as they are a registered voter.”
This year, in NC, voters are not required to have a reason or give an explanation for requesting an absentee ballot.
Voters can request an absentee ballot by calling their local BOE office or by visiting the State Board of Elections website, printing the mail-in ballot request form and mailing the completed form to their local BOE. Mail-in request forms will be received by the BOE and logged into the system. An official absentee ballot will then be mailed back to the voter. The voter can then complete the ballot and return their vote by mail to their local BOE.
According to Nicholson, the absentee ballot will include a security sleeve, a self-addressed return envelope and barcodes on the documentation to identify the voter. “All legitimate mailings from your local BOE will be identified with the State BOE seal, as well as your local BOE address and information,” she said.
In Vance County, absentee ballots may be returned by mail from the residence, mailed at a post office, brought in-person to the BOE office or delivered in-person to one of the designated early voting sites during one-stop voting.
Those that initiate the absentee ballot request process and then decide to vote in-person must contact their local BOE to cancel the mail-in process before attempting to vote in-person.
“Once the ballot request has been made, the process has begun for you to be identified as an absentee mail-in voter,” said Nicholson. “If you show up in-person, the system will indicate whether you requested a ballot and the status of that ballot. You cannot show up and try to vote twice.”
Requests for absentee ballots that are sent from the BOE must be initiated by the voter; the BOE will not send absentee ballots without a request.
Nicholson urged caution against using the absentee ballots sent by third parties, which may or may not be legitimate. “I’m encouraging our voters to disregard those notices because they are third-party, and the State BOE is not responsible for those ballots. If you have an envelope and the return address is not going to your local BOE office, I would not use it.”
In the same vein, Nicholson urged caution if registering during voter registration drives held by third parties. “If the organization sponsoring the event is not well-known or well-established, then I would second guess them. A lot of these events are legitimate and they do what they are supposed to do; however, my advice is to always be on the side of caution.”
Voters with special needs in Vance County may contact the BOE and speak to Director Faye Gill. The BOE has a Multipartisan Assistance Team (MAT) available to help those with special needs register to vote, receive voting materials and fill out ballots.
COVID safety precautions will be taken at voting sites including sanitizing voting booths after each use and supplying one-time use pens. Curbside voting is also an option for senior citizens and the immunocompromised.
The Vance County Board of Elections is located at 300 S. Garnett Street in Henderson, NC. With questions or for additional information, please call the BOE at (252) 492-3730.
To hear the interview in its entirety, go to WIZS.com and click on Town Talk.
(This edition of Town Talk is part of a paid sponsorship with the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments.)