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Buncombe election? It’s ‘secure,’ official says
Thursday, 10 November 2022 21:45

From Staff Reports

The midterm election in Buncombe County on Nov. 8 will be secure, Corrine Duncan, director for Buncombe Election Services, told the Asheville-based Council of Independent Owners on Nov. 4 at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center.

A separate presentation, a report on the Metropolitan Sewerage District, was the only other business matter at the meeting. (A separate story on the MSD update appears elsewhere in this edition.) 

About 50 people attended the early-morning breakfast meeting during which Stephen Foster, a board member of CIBO, acted as meeting moderator.

“I’m Stephen Foster, great American writer, if you’re over (age) 40, you know who I am. The rest of you don’t have a clue, do you?” Foster quipped, prompting laughter from the attendees. “They scraped the bottom of the barrel to have me emcee this CIBO meeting.” 

(Indeed, Foster — 1826-1864 — is described as “a melodic genius with tender, sympathetic lyrics and infectious rhythm, Stephen Foster is often credited as ‘America’s First Composer’ and widely regarded as one of the first who made professional songwriting profitable,” according to the website

In her election services address, Duncan said, “What I’m going to do (in her report to CIBO) is mainly (review) voting information because that’s what we do.

“Then I’ll review how we ensure those who cast ballots have just cast their ballots” in a way that will be counted.

She noted that Oct. 14 was the registration deadline and that the early voting period was scheduled to end Nov. 5. In Buncombe, she said, “we had 12 early voting sites.”

There have been “lines” at the voting sites, Duncan noted, but “the lines are — partially — because the ballot is so long.”

She added, “It’s important that people check their sample ballot” before casting their votes.

“So, like I said, we’re still in the early voting period.... On Election Day, polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. There is a wait list that we put on the website (, showing how many people are in line on Election Day. So that is the overview of what the voters need to know.”

At that point, an unidentified man asked, “How many early voting votes (are being cast) per day?”

“It’s been between 100 and 150 people per day,” Duncan replied, adding that her unit’s offices are inthe Interchange Building at 59 Woodfin Place.

To date, “absentee by mail (voting) has increased,” she said.  “In North Carolina, we have the longest absentee-by-mail voting period — beginning Sept. 9 — in the nation.”

However, she added, “It’s still a pretty small percentage of how people vote. Early voting has seen an uptick… I think we’ll see an uptick today. If you want to vote early, expect Friday (Nov. 4) and Saturday (Nov. 5) to be busy days.

“We talked about the long lines… For Election Services, we have permanent staff (11 members) and seasonal staff (33 workers). So that quadrupled” our staffing.

What’s more, Duncan will be overseeing 160 early voting workers and 500 poll workers, at 80 voting locations in Buncombe on Election Day Nov. 8).

At that point, she said, “So that’s my overview of statistics. I do expect on Election Day — if we had 60 percent again, we’d see 60,000 voters…. It’s still a high turnout, but it’s still not hitting 2018 so far.

“So that is the statistics and now we move into how we see who’s eligible to vote and how we count those votes — the structure. There are two pieces of what we do in our office — registration and voting.

“So you have U.S. citizens at least 18 years of age, state, ID verification — "and you also have to be alive.” Her last qualification prompted laughter from the audience.

The security part of the mid-term election in Buncombe “has three pieces — the people part, the system and the processes we use,” Duncan said.

“For the people part, it starts with the (state) legislature, which makes the rules on elections we have to follow, along with federal laws.

“In North Carolina, there’s a state Board of Elections,” comprised of five members, which is bipartisan — “and then there’s an administration that runs it ... and then each county mimics that set up. 

“So the local (elections) boards are bipartisan as well. The local boards are part of the security checks as well.

“We also have poll workers who are bipartisan, along with election observers, who are bipartisan.

“The election is the only place where everyone comes together.

“That’s the people side — helping to set up for elections.”

Continuing, Duncan said, “Now, we can talk about the system side. In North Carolina, it’s a paper system that's supported by machines to make it faster. People really want to know the results — and it would take weeks to count all the results, otherwise.

“The reason that makes it secure is because it has two pieces — the paper backup and the machines.

“The next thing is the processes —  there's also all sorts of audits” that the election rules require. “Anyone can observe the process. We make sure the number of ballots match everything else — and we do that every night.

“We also have open meetings and open data. North Carolina has more election data than any other state. We know that, and we have to make sure we stand up to any scruity from anyone. There’s bipartisan scrutiny… If someone questions something, there is provisional voting... and those go back to our office for our review.

“On Election Day, Nov. 8, the unofficial results (including absentee) will come out at 7:30 p.m. Again, we’re lucky. Pennsylvania is not lucky....

“That (Election Day) really is an exciting time for everyone. We have a 10-day period — a canvass period — after Election Day, where provisional votes and any absentee votes still coming in are counted… 

“Then we present these results to the board. So the board will ask questions and look at our audits until they’re satisfied with the results and the election is certified,” Duncan said, in concluding her presentation.

During a brief question-and-answer period, an unidentified man said, “My wife and I went to Skyland Library to vote… My wife went to vote and the lady called her back and said, ‘Ma’am, I forgot to scan your ballot,’” as his wife was leaving.

“Four or five days later, the same thing happened to me. What would have happened if we hadn’t been called back?”

“The scanning of ballots sounds like more than it is,” Duncan answered. “So ballots are scanned for ballot style. If they (poll workers) had not scanned it, it’s extremely likely that you got the correct style. It’s just a safeguard we add. The scanners often are old. South Buncombe is our busiest (voting) site.”




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