An inside look at the election canvassing process before final results

An inside look at election canvassing in Brunswick County
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 6:33 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Election day has come and gone, but the votes are still being counted in a detailed, but necessary process.

Across the state, the Board of Elections is counting the provisional and absentee ballots. In Brunswick County, members of the public could observe the meeting in person or via Zoom.

“It took a long time and it’s important for us to come here and see it happen,” David Smudski, Brunswick County resident who watched in person, said.

At the pre-canvass meeting of Brunswick County’s Board of Elections, every provisional and absentee vote is carefully reviewed by a bipartisan team of former chief judges.

“We have an established relationship [with the bipartisan team], we know they are meticulous and pay attention to detail,” Sara LaVere, director of Brunswick County Board of Elections, said.

These team members are the only ones allowed to touch and scan live ballots, making sure they’re not tampered with. They review each one and sign off on them, making sure to document every step.

“If, after the election, someone calls in to question some of the procedures that we did or protested or questions the results, we have a paper trail, evidence that we followed all the procedures we were supposed to that the ballots were not tampered with,” LaVere said.

The bipartisan team puts the ballots in a box where they are sealed with a zip tie and a sheriff’s deputy escorts the board members and the ballot box to an office where they are sealed in a vault.

“We’re making sure that we can account for everything and that when we certify those results at the canvass, those results are accurate,” LaVere continued.

A lengthy and meticulous process, but it’s all to ensure a secure and fair election.

The board approved 48 of the 59 outstanding absentee ballots and 88 of the 231 provisional ballots submitted in the races.

Board members said the reason many provisional ballots were not approved was due to voters not voting in the right municipality, many living in unincorporated areas.

To find voter information for upcoming elections, you can visit the State’s Board of Elections website.