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How to know your vote counted

In the wake of a General Election that witnessed historic levels of voter participation, people are wondering whether or not their ballots were properly tabulated.

While browsing Facebook this past weekend, I was shocked to read comments – from people I know and I thought were better informed – in regards to what they felt was fraudulent activity when it came to their ballot. Some of the comments were downright nasty and directed toward folks who have nothing to do with ballots being cast or tabulated.

Instead of me explaining how this all works, I’m using my column space this week to publish a press release I received late last week from the North Carolina Board of Elections. Those officials stressed that it may take a few weeks before an individual’s “voter history” is updated to reflect their recent vote in their voter record available through the State Board of Elections’ Voter Search tool.

As a side note, I checked mine on Friday and Sunday and it has yet to be updated, but I feel confident it will be.

“If you voted in person and inserted your ballot into a tabulator, your selections were immediately recorded on a memory card, and your votes were reported on election night as part of the unofficial results,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “We respectfully ask that voters trust their bipartisan boards of elections across North Carolina. We are here to make sure your votes count, and they will.”

The State Board of Elections and county boards of elections are inundated with questions from voters about whether their ballot was counted in the 2020 general election. In almost every single case, the answer will be yes.

However, if you voted on Election Day, it will take time for your voter history to reflect the fact that you voted, as county boards of elections must first complete post-election processes.

Voters may confirm the status of their ballot in the following ways through the State Board of Elections’ Voter Search tool: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/. Simply enter your first and last names and county (if desired) and follow the instructions below based on your voting method.

Your ballot status will show up in the “Voter History” section as soon as your county completes the post-election process of assigning voter history to your record. This may take a couple of weeks or longer after the election.

Please be assured that your county board of elections will complete this process as promptly as possible amid the other post-election tasks that must be completed, including post-election audits and certification of the results.

If you voted in person during the one-stop early voting period from October 15-31 you can find that your vote counted in the “Your Absentee Ballot” section of the Voter Search database.

Under North Carolina law, all early votes – by-mail or in-person – are considered absentee votes. If you voted during the early voting period, your “Absentee Status” will show “VALID RETURN,” the “Return Method” will be “IN PERSON” and your “Return Status” will be “ACCEPTED.”

Your ballot status also will show up in the “Voter History” section as soon as your county completes the post-election process of assigning voter history to your record. This may take a couple of weeks or longer.

If you voted absentee by-mail, once your ballot is received by your county board of elections, you can find that your vote counted in the “Your Absentee Ballot” section of the Voter Search database. “Absentee Status” will show “VALID RETURN,” the “Return Method” will be “MAIL” and your “Return Status” will be “ACCEPTED” or “ACCEPTED – CURED”.

Similar to the other ways to cast a ballot, your Voter History will soon be updated.

If you cast a provisional ballot you will be able to check the status of your ballot 10 days after the election through the Provisional Search tool: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegProvPIN/. You must fill out all four fields in the form and click “Search.”

In all cases, voter history includes the election date, the voting method and your county. For primary elections, it also includes the ballot style (Republican, Democratic, nonpartisan, etc.) that you voted. It will not show who you voted for. That is always confidential.

And last, but certainly not least, state officials encourage voters to be wary about what they read online and on social media about elections.

Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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