NC Elections official sets rules for pandemic voting
By Outer Banks Voice on July 18, 2020
(State Board of Elections)
Karen Brinson Bell, the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections, on July 17 issued an emergency order to protect voters from disease and reduce the likelihood of long lines and crowds at voting sites during the 2020 general election.
The order aims to ensure voters who choose to vote in person have every opportunity to exercise their constitutional right without unnecessary risk to their health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The order mandates the following, among other provisions:
- All county boards of elections must open each early voting site for at least 10 hours on the weekends of October 17-18 and October 24-25.
- Each county board must open at least one early voting site per 20,000 registered voters in the county. A county board of elections may apply for a waiver if its proposed plan sufficiently serves the voting population, maintains social distancing and reduces the likelihood of long lines.
- Any county board with only one early voting site must arrange for a backup site and backup staff.
- County boards may open early voting sites before 8 a.m. and remain open later than 7:30 p.m., provided that the sites (other than the county-board office or in-lieu-of site, if only open regular business hours) are all open at the same time.
- All county boards must take significant precautions to protect voters and poll workers from the spread of disease. These safeguards include: providing for social distancing at voting sites, including barriers between elections officials and voters at check-in; frequently sanitizing common surfaces, including voting booths; providing single-use pens to mark paper ballots or cotton swabs for ballot-marking devices; requiring elections officials to wear face coverings and making masks available to voters who do not bring their own. Voters are not required to wear masks while voting.
County boards of elections that already submitted unanimous early voting plans to the State Board must reconsider their plans and resubmit them in light of this executive order or apply for a waiver.
North Carolina voters will have all voting options available to them in the 2020 election: absentee by-mail, in-person early voting and Election Day voting.