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Mecklenburg County Board of Elections director confident in county electoral system

Voters check in for early voting during the 2020 election.
Erin Keever
Voters check in for early voting during the 2020 election.

We’re about a week and a half away from Election Day. But early, in-person voting began last week in North Carolina. And so far about 73,000 people in Mecklenburg County have cast their ballots at one of two dozen early-voting sites across the county. For more, Michael Dickerson, the director of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections joins WFAE's Marshall Terry.

Marshall Terry: How’s it going so far?

Michael Dickerson: Good, thank you. All the sites are staying busy. We're hitting good numbers and I think we're going to have a good turnout with the early voting.

Terry: And obviously Mecklenburg is your focus, but do you have a sense of how early voting is going across the state?

Dickerson: I think similar to us. I think the numbers that the state is saying are we're sort of on par with what we were with the last midterm election. If that's the case, it puts Mecklenburg at about 200,000 early. Voters, I'm hoping, will go a little higher than that, just because I like to see early voting numbers go higher every time we do them. I think we're where we should be.

Terry: Elections boards across North Carlina have been inundated recently with records requests from people who still question the integrity of the 2020 election. And, some election boards said they were having to divert resources away from preparing for this election to handle those requests. Has that been the case in Mecklenburg County?

Dickerson: We have received numerous requests for things from the 2020 election, and we have handled what we could up to that point. But my priority right now is the 2022 election. And, I must and I am required to get that all ready for the voters of Mecklenburg County.

Terry: What kinds of records have people been requesting related to the 2020 election?

Dickerson: Most of it is our poll tapes for the election. And the big thing was something called the CVR Report. CVR is, I think it was something called the canvass vote report, which we never print out. We don't do it — canvass vote report. Keep in mind, I am all for public information and open and transparent, but I also am all for keeping your vote secret. Your vote is your vote, not anybody else's vote. So I am going to protect your vote as a voter and not make certain that nobody else can see who or how you vote for.

Terry: These records people have been requesting are they legally allowed to do that?

Dickerson: Well, a lot of them they're not. And that's the good fortune of having my legal department here at the county to let them know that that that is not something available. I'm very cautious about everything I send out. You're talking about an election that was two years ago and has been already concluded and has been certified and canvased. Not only certified once but certified twice in my office and in the state of North Carolina, because we all had a complete recount of the Cheri Beasley, (Paul) Newby chief justice race. I'm completely confident in our process. We did a complete recount of every ballot and we were only off by four from the original number that we had. Those are pretty good numbers if you ask me.

Terry: Well, what do you say to someone who is an election denier to restore their trust in our electoral system?

Dickerson: Well, a couple of things. If you are subscribing to something that says it's completely false, that's a hard one to convince that it's not. I try to convince, I try to tell people, but some people just will not listen to reason or to logic on this. But this is not just Michael Dickerson down here doing this election. This is a bipartisan board. I'm governed by state rules and federal rules on how I have to do everything. I have bipartisan precinct officials. I employ well over 2,600, 2,800 people on Election Day itself. So these folks have all taken the training. They've all done their job. They've been doing this for years. And that's the key to remember — these precinct officials that we have out there running this election are great people. They're your neighbors. I go to the same grocery store as you go to. Your kids play soccer together. All of these things. These are these people. They're good, upstanding, honest people. We have it in place so that the whole thing works.

Terry: Do you anticipate this election to be questioned once it’s over at the level we’ve seen with the 2020 election and more of those records requests you’ve been getting?

Dickerson: I'm certain it will. We'll have people ... Yeah, it's going to be funny. It depends on the outcome, I guess. But here again, it's not going to change the way we do things. We do things right. And we do it the way it is prescribed by law. I'll be perfectly happy with the results.

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Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.