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North Carolina Early Votes Will Be Counted On Election Day

This story was written by Alex Vaughn, Technician

Unless they are provisional ballots, all North Carolina absentee and early votes will be counted on Election Day, despite rumors to the contrary.

Cherie Poucher, director of Wake County's Board of Elections, said she has received calls asking whether absentee votes are counted alongside those cast on Election Day.

It's "one of those myths going around," she said.

State Board of Elections Deputy Director Johnnie McLean is also concerned with the apparent falsehood circulating among voters.

"It is indeed a rumor," McLean said. "All non-provisional votes cast at an early voting site are recorded when they are cast, and mailed-in absentee votes are recorded when they are processed at the Board of Elections office."

Ballot-scanning machines at the fifteen one-stop voting sites will be brought back to the Board of Elections office under police escort after early voting ends Saturday. The scanners will then remain sealed until Election Day at which point their counts will be tabulated.

The totals won't be made public until the polls close.

"The confusion may stem from provisional ballots," Michael Cobb, North Carolina State University assistant professor of political science, said. "If someone goes to vote and is told that there is something wrong with their registration or that there is some confusion about whether they're properly registered, then they are allowed to cast a provisional ballot that will not get counted until later - if at all."

Provisional ballots are held until after Election Day, and are not counted until they are certified as being legitimate.

"Provisional ballots ensure that every qualified eligible voter is able to vote, while at the same time preserving the integrity of the election," McLean said.

Poucher stated that in the ten days following the election all provisional ballots are researched and submitted to a three-member board that will determine the voter's eligibility. Eligible provisional votes are then combined with Election Day totals, and the Board will certify an official count on Nov. 14.

Early voters who cast a provisional ballot because they did not produce valid identification at the time have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 13 to provide their identification at the Board of Elections office.

"Election night is unofficial because what we have to do once we get everything back is to audit everything, make sure everything adds up right, and then do the research," Poucher said.

Voters who cast provisional ballots can check the State Board of Elections Web site to determine whether their vote was counted after the certification date.

"Whatever is not counted is incredibly minute in terms of the overall ballots that are counted," Cobb said.

Becky Till, a senior in biology who voted Monday, said she hasn't heard any rumors regarding voting.

"I haven't heard anything like that at all, but I'm glad it's not true," she said. "I don't hang out with a particularly politically-minded group - I mean, they all vote but we don't really talk about it."

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