BEAUFORT — Election Day may be over but vote counting will continue and North Carolina election results remain unofficial until late next week.
The delay is normal and happens each election as part of the state’s certification process.
“It’s business as usual, just on a larger scale,” Carteret County Board of Elections Director Caitlin Sabadish said Thursday.
The Carteret County Board of Elections will accept supplemental absentee-by-mail ballots postmarked by Election Day until 5 p.m. Thursday. The county’s canvass for the 2020 General Election – the process through which the board certifies election results – is set for 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 13.
A number of races in North Carolina, including the presidential contest, U.S. Senate, state attorney general and State Supreme Court chief justice, likely won’t be resolved until all ballots are counted.
Carteret County has the potential for as many as 1,800 supplemental absentee ballots, according to Ms. Sabadish. That figure is based on unreturned absentee ballots the county office sent out, but she said not all will result in an eligible ballot.
“I really have no idea what we’re going to have,” she said. Some of those 1,800 outstanding could have been issued to voters who changed course and ended up voting on Election Day or during one-stop, others were duplicates and still others will simply not be returned, or not returned or postmarked on time.
As of Thursday, the county also had roughly 30 ballots “pending cure,” meaning there were deficiencies with the returned ballot that the voter can remedy with a cure affidavit. The BOE can accept cure certifications through 5 p.m. Thursday, as well.
All the supplemental absentees are set to be considered for approval at the BOE’s 5 p.m. Thursday meeting.
An additional 460 provisional ballots in Carteret County have yet to be counted. Those contribute to the 40,766 the State Board of Elections reported across North Carolina as of Thursday morning.
This year’s count of local provisional ballots tracks closely with the last presidential election. In 2016, Carteret County had 443 provisionals.
Provisionals are poll ballots, cast by voters at polling locations when there are problems with them voting a regular ballot. Reasons for voting a provisional can include missing or incorrect voter registration, voting at the wrong polling place on Election Day and more. The voted provisional ballots are then researched by staff to determined eligibility to vote or vote a particular ballot or measure.
The County BOE will gather Tuesday morning, after the board’s 9 a.m. regular meeting, to review and count approved provisional ballots.
All these activities are part of the normal election process, Ms. Sabadish noted, though with North Carolina’s electors unclaimed and tight margins in several races, voters and others are anxious for official results.
“I have every confidence, every confidence, in the election system in North Carolina,” County Board of Elections Chairperson Susie Cuthrell said. “…People need to be patient. They need to realize our system has worked…”
All the meetings the board is set to have are open to the public and will be available virtually, including the hand-eye audit set for Friday. During the audit, bipartisan teams will review each ballot from two randomly chosen precincts in the county - in this case, Morehead No. 1 and Beaufort No. 1 - and check the presidential race against DS200 totals from Election Day.
To connect to any of the board’s meetings, visit carteretcountync.gov/477/Board-Meetings and access the Zoom links.
Ms. Sabadish also noted Thursday the office has been “inundated” with calls from voters concerned their voter history – searchable through the SBOE’s website – does not reflect that they voted on Election Day.
The director advised voters not to be alarmed. That data is updated manually by staff, and the process hasn’t taken place yet. In a release Thursday, the State Board of Elections said the process could take several weeks or longer.
“If they put their ballot into the DS200, it is counted,” Ms. Sabadish confirmed.
Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.