Alexandra Watts


Alexandra Watts joins WFAE via Report For America as part of a partnership with Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Digital Public Library of America.

Watts will cover the local civics beat including census outcomes and 2020 elections. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, she also will examine how local governmental institutions are repositioning themselves to meet the community’s needs.

Watts is going into her third year as an RFA corps member. Prior to coming to WFAE, she covered all 18 counties of the Mississippi Delta for Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Her work has been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered, “Here & Now” and in USA Today. Watts received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

classroom desks

The Mecklenburg County Health Department says the county has seen its first cluster of COVID-19 cases in a K-12 school.

alamosbasement / Flickr

The Union County school board has approved a new schedule that gives students more time inside classrooms.

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

North Carolina is set to see a record number of absentee votes in the November election. But those votes won’t be released until Election Day. 


We are less than two months away from Election Day, and counties across North Carolina are gearing up to serve voters and their changing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Absentee ballots, low numbers of poll workers and safety at the polls are just some of the issues counties across the state are encountering. WFAE reporter Alexandra Watts recently checked in with Union County to see how they're managing the run-up to the November election, and spoke with WFAE's "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn.

Do you have questions about the 2020 General Election? This year, with the coronavirus pandemic, knowing how to vote is just as important as what is on the ballot. WFAE has answers to some of the biggest questions you might have about the Nov. 3 election. 

Where Do I Vote?

Where you vote depends on what precinct you live in – and there are around 200 precincts in Mecklenburg County.


COVID-19 has changed the way we work, the way we travel -- and the way we vote. More than 710,000 North Carolina voters have requested an absentee ballot for the November election. That’s compared to 46,000 requested ballots for the 2016 election.

WFAE's "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glenn and reporter Alexandra Watts talk about how to vote absentee in the upcoming general election.

Two Maids and a Mop - Charlotte

Brandon Brown works as a custodian at Cochrane Collegiate Academy. He’s been a custodial worker for 14 years. 

With students in virtual learning, he's cleaning a nearly empty school. But there are still teachers in the classrooms, and to keep them safe, he spends his days going from classroom to classroom wiping everything down. He’s also cleaning bathrooms -- even lockers -- and making sure air vents are clean to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. 


Millions of renters across the country are facing evictions during the coronavirus pandemic, and homeowners are also trying to keep their homes.

cottonbro / Pexels

North Carolina is working with the federal government to send an additional $300 to some unemployed residents. It’s part of an executive order issued by the president after federal dollars ran out at the end of July — and that extra money could come as soon as next week. 

Dashiell Coleman / WFAE

The Confederate monument outside the Gaston County courthouse will stay where it’s at for now.

Splatter Salon / Facebook

During the months when salons and barber shops were closed, the feeling of getting a haircut was a distant memory. But now that stylists and barbers are welcoming customers back into their chairs, everyone is settling into an experience that’s changed. 

David Boraks / WFAE


Most college students haven’t been in a classroom since spring break. As these students get ready to start college, COVID-19 continues to change the way they learn, socialize and interact.  

A car decorated for the Parade of Counts
Alexandra Watts

This was supposed to be the year of the census. It still is, but it’s also the year of the coronavirus pandemic. That makes it harder for community advocates to hold in-person events and get people counted. 

Lydia Robinson
Alexandra Watts / WFAE

A Confederate monument and a confrontation at a local ice cream shop in Gastonia brought people out to protest this week. 

U.S. Census Bureau

Members of North Carolina’s Latino community say those who are in the country illegally will be even more fearful of filling out the 2020 census after President Trump released a memo saying the census would exclude undocumented immigrants