Uncertainty About Midterm NC Elections Clearing Up

Sep 4, 2018

Members of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections, from left to right: Michael Dickerson, Mary Potter Summa, Carol Hill Williams, Elizabeth McDowell and John Gresham.
Credit Cole del Charco / WFAE

County Boards of Elections across the state of North Carolina are waiting on the content of absentee ballots meant to be ready three weeks ago. The delay comes after two proposed constitutional amendments were caught up in court, but Tuesday the North Carolina Supreme court declined a hearing on those amendments. 

North Carolina law requires that absentee ballots are available to voters at least 60 days before an election — at least it did until this summer, when the two amendments were held up in the courts. 

The Director of Elections for Mecklenburg County Michael Dickerson said while it's unique to have one problem slowing down all 100 counties' election preparation, the boards always find a way.

"We’re waiting for the state to give us some direction and tell us where to go," Dickerson said. "As soon as they do, we’ll jump on it and take care of it, like we normally do."

Now, the county is looking to get the final information needed to create the ballots from the State Board of Elections: the candidates, the amendment questions and the congressional districts. 

The Board of Elections’ chairperson, Mary Potter Summa, said hitting the federal deadline to make absentee ballots available 45 days before the election won’t be an issue. 

"They’ve had some things in the past that have been topsy turvy and they’ve always met their deadline and gotten things done," Potter Summa said. "It’s a very good staff and I have no doubt that it will happen this time."

There was uncertainty about whether the election would even take place in November after a three-judge panel ruled that the NC congressional districts needed to be re-drawn before the upcoming election. 

On Friday, however, plaintiffs in the case agreed with legislators that there isn’t enough time to draw new maps before the November election.  

That panel could still call for new maps and delay the election, but for now, it looks like the election will happen on Nov. 6, as planned.