Buncombe County – “We are very happy with how election day went,” said Buncombe County Election Board Director Corinne Duncan as she opened a virtual press conference for a “question and answer” session with the news media on Tuesday morning (Nov. 15th). “It was a very smooth day. We always love to report that.”
Duncan then started going over the early vote, which was posted on election morning, and had a little over 70,000 voters along with 6,400 absentee ballots. “By the end of the day, we added 42,474 election day voters. So we had a good turnout.”
She continued saying that on Monday, November 14th, the board had a supplemental absentee meeting. “We had a lot of those. We had 1,036 absentees… and we updated those.” Duncan continued, “We still have some provisional [ballots] to process about 580 of those, so not a huge number, but we still have some of those.” Despite the absentee and the provisionals, Duncan said it did not appear that there would be a need for any recounts.
She stated that the sample audit by the state board of elections had also been completed. She explained that two locations were randomly selected by the state board, and the county board had to go in and do a hand count and make sure it matched the machine count. Duncan said they had observers at the hand count. “That one went well too.”
After the Thursday, Nov. 17th, provisional ballot meeting, on Friday, Nov. 18th, the canvas was held across the state at 11 a.m., where the county boards would hear challenges to votes. If there are challenges, those hearings will be held first. The county board would then review the results, after which each county board would sign and certify their election results. “That’s when they become official.”
Questions from the media
Duncan then opened the meeting to questions from the media, and the Tribune asked, what was the provisional process that the board goes through?
“It’s a very intense process,” she started. “The provisional process is for people who present to vote and for some reason aren’t able to be processed normally.” She said this could be because the poll worker can’t find their registration or there’s some issue. The purpose of provisional is to make sure only those who are qualified get to vote, and there are people who come to vote and are denied because of a mistake. So provisionals are really an important process. They are processed at the voting station and put into an envelope; they are not put into the tabulator.”
Those ballots are pre-reviewed by a bipartisan team of two, who do research, and then a recommendation is made to the board on whether to be counted, rejected, or partially counted. The board has the final say.
The Tribune also asked how the state board selects the precinct chosen for sample balloting. “They, in their own public meeting, randomly selected any voting place.” She went on to say mail-in ballots, early voting places, and precincts could all be chosen. Buncombe got an election day precinct as well as an early voting site. The two total more than 20,000 votes that were hand-counted and checked against the machine totals and came out correct.
Asked to talk about the canvass period, Duncan said the canvass was the 10-day period after the election where sampling, auditing to make sure there’s been no double voting, checking provisional ballots, and any supplemental actions are accomplished. All completed before the election is certified.
She was also asked if any early votes had been disqualified by the death of a voter before the election, as required by state law. “We did, and we do have that every election,” Duncan said. She did not know the exact number of votes, but it was less than 10. “Those are some of the ones that are challenged.”
Duncan was also asked about a so-called glitch that the Tribune broke the story on that would allow a voter during the early voting period to get more than one ballot during a 15-minute period and vote more than once, and if they had experienced any of that during this year’s early voting. “No,” was her response.
The Tribune also asked Duncan about a report that the newspaper received that there was electioneering taking place inside a polling place in the form of pamphlets for the two bond referendums on the ballot. “So we had some sites that had, did have reports that had the bond information…but electioneering wasn’t happening. Kassi Day, Communication & Public Engagement for Buncombe County, chimed in, saying the brochure in question was created by the county as an informational sheet and did not advocate for or against the bonds.