I had read all the hype and drama that accompanied other Board of Elections meetings around the state of North Carolina, but really had no idea what went on at a Board of Elections meeting, so I decided to find out for myself. I do live in a small county with comparably low population, so I wasn't expecting any drama, but still wanted to see for myself first hand. OK so I get nervous about nothing (if you read my earlier post). The directors and staff at the Burke County Board of Elections are so nice, everyone at the meeting was incredibly welcoming. I was there merely to observe the meeting and my only agenda was to see what they do.
My introverted-ness and my worry about meeting new people, and being in a new environment was completely alleviated the minute I walked into the room. I don't know why I become so nervous about things like this, but with time and pushing myself more and more, I am hoping it becomes easier.
The directors did discuss and create a plan for extending the voting days, per the court ruling. Burke county early voting for the November 2016 election will start on October 20th. And will run weekdays from 8AM-5PM, plus Saturday Nov 5 from 8AM-1PM. Nothing that I wasn't expecting. It was explained that weekend voting is so low in Burke County that it would be cost prohibitive to add another weekend day. I did stay for the entire meeting and the extended days/hours was only a small part of the meeting. I was amazed at the time and effort all of the people at the Burke County Board of Elections give to voting.
I don't know how it works in other counties but throughout the almost 3 hour meeting it became so evident that these people take their jobs seriously, very seriously. They think about things that had never, ever, crossed my mind. Like what if a convicted sex offender lives in an area where his/her polling place is a school. Or what if an absentee ballot is mailed in and the ballot is mangled by the post office. Well, these people have the answers, so if you have any questions at all, call the Board of Elections office. I know in Burke County they can tell you the answer or know where to look, who to talk to, to find the answer.
It is so apparent that these people go to great lengths to ensure that your right to vote is protected, that your ballot is secure, that every ballot is counted, that your security and privacy are safeguarded at the polling station. They discussed avenues for getting the word out about the extended early voting and that no ID is required. They discussed ballot security throughout the entire process. They discussed overseas and military ballots. They discussed continuing education, different voter laws and voting machines. I would never have thought that there was this much to discuss concerning voting, but there is. Everyone should attend one meeting at some point in their life. But more than that, I think the best form of appreciation for what these people do throughout the year to secure your right to vote is to GET OUT AND VOTE!
I mean that, please take a few minutes and get to the polls, starting October 20th. It really only takes a few minutes and there are polling places throughout the county. So mark your calendar now, go ahead, do it now, find a day that works for you and write GO VOTE on there. Then go to the Burke County Board of Elections web site and see what polling place works for you. If you scroll down just a bit and look to the left you will see a FAQ section and that is one of the tabs listed, "When and Where is Early Voting". Then I would encourage you to go to the Burke County Board of Elections facebook page and leave them a little note letting them know they are appreciated.
OK so if you don't live in Burke County, I can't speak for your Board of Elections, but you could. Go to a meeting, they are open to the public. Search your county Board of Elections for the web site or go to the NC State Board of Elections web site for info.
It was an eye opening experience and I plan to attend more meetings in the future, when I can schedule it. I will be engaging in more of these outside the box experiences and will let you all know how they go!