Elections Officials Cleaning up Rolls
By John Chappell
People who haven't been voting in Moore County recently are getting cards in the mail, but they're not holiday greetings.
The Board of Elections is trying to clean up its rolls, so it has sent postcards with a return card so voters can mail in any changes they need to make. The process is designed to update addresses or discover if people have moved away.
"Last week during the December Director of Elections Conference at RTP, county board of elections directors were directed to begin their no-contact mailings for list maintenance on Monday, Dec. 17," director Glenda Clendenin said in an emailed statement. "Under state law, all counties must attempt to contact by mail any and all voters who they have had no contact with for the last two years."
Some 8,800 cards went out in the mail this week to Moore County voters who have not voted or had any activity on their record in more than two years, the director said. These postcards are marked for return to sender if undeliverable, but not for forwarding to new addresses.
"If you receive a voter card at your address for someone who no longer is a resident at that address, simply mark 'no longer here' and place it back in the mail," Clendenin said. "Under state law, a second mailing will be sent. This second mailing is forwardable and is sent to the voter's new address if one is on file."
People who have had no contact with the board and have not voted in the last two federal elections are sent the cards. No action is necessary if the information on the card - name, address, districts for various offices and polling place - is right. If anything needs to be changed, then the tear-off portion should be filled out and mailed, according to Board of Elections staff.
When cards are returned as undeliverable, a second card - called a "confirmation card" - is mailed to that same address from which it will be forwarded if a forwarding address is on file. If that card comes back, the voter's name goes into an "inactive" file.
If the person in the future goes to vote and the incorrect address was only a post office box, he or she is allowed to vote normally. However, if they moved out of the county and later returned, their ballot will be treated as "provisional."
"If they left Moore County and didn't register when they came back, technically they are not a resident for voting purposes," a campaign finance specialist in the Board of Elections office said. "It is as if they had just moved here; they need to register."
Students may keep their home address. They don't need to register where they go to school. They have a choice: they can register where they go to school, or they can keep their parents' address.
In North Carolina, a uniform system used by almost every board of election seamlessly corrects records when voters register at a new residence. The State Election Management System (SEIMS) means there should be no more dead people on voter rolls and no more voters registered in more than one county.
Thanks to SEIMS, the state now has single, consistent and up-to-date registration of legal voters for its 100 counties. The General Assembly passed legislation over a decade ago setting up a central database for voter records and spent $10 million to do it.
North Carolina has not had serious problems with election fraud, but because counties conduct voter registration independently, mistakes can occur. SEIMS is an effort to make registration more accurate. In the future, it will be linked to records in the Department of Corrections and will automatically take felons off the rolls. The state prohibits felons from voting, a restriction that affects several thousand North Carolina residents. SEIMS would automatically restore citizens' voting rights after their felony status is removed.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or jfchappell@ gmail.com.
More like this story