Few Problems Reported Amid Record Early Voter Turnout In Mecklenburg County
Poll workers had a chance to catch their breath as the early voting rush slowed this weekend across Mecklenburg County, although turnout remains higher than usual ahead of Election Day. As of Sunday afternoon, more than 86,800 people in Mecklenburg County had cast ballots across 33 early voting sites.
Statewide, more than 1.4 million people have cast ballots by mail or at early voting locations as of Sunday morning, representing a 212% increase from this same time in 2016.
Voting has largely gone smoothly across Charlotte despite long lines at some polling stations when early voting kicked off on Thursday.
Some tabulation machines temporarily jammed up at West Charlotte High, Hickory Grove Elementary School and the Spectrum Center, according to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections. A spokesperson said the machines were quickly fixed and no votes were affected.
Poll workers at Ardrey Kell High also reported problems with several ExpressVote machines freezing up Thursday and Friday. A technician later said the problems were caused by poll workers mistakenly spraying the machines with a sanitizing spray rather than wiping them down. Again, a spokesperson said no votes were affected.
Many people who visited early voting sites over the weekend said they had long made up their minds on how they wanted to vote and saw no reason to stall, even with the election more than two weeks away and a presidential debate scheduled for Thursday.
"We were already committed to who we wanted to vote for, so why wait?" said Brenda Bell, who brought along her two children — both first-time voters — to Ardrey Kell High on Saturday.
"There wouldn't be anything that would change my mind for who I wanted to vote for," echoed Lucy Sigmon, who was also voting at Ardrey Kell for the first time.
The early voting enthusiasm also helped election officials recruit poll workers, said Ardrey Kell's site coordinator, Lisa Ballard.
"Usually you call people and you don't get a call back, and honestly for early voting, every person I called called me back and was willing to work," she said. "So, very encouraging."
If voters had one major complaint about voting early in this election, it was this grievance summed up by voter Manu Sadanandan:
"I'm so bummed that we're not getting stickers!"
Election officials decided to nix the classic "I voted" stickers as they try to limit the spread of COVID-19. Instead, voters are given silver ballpoint pens — used as styluses on voting machines — to keep as mementos.