The Podsquad caught up with Meloni Wray, Director of the Craven County Board of Elections, to find out what residents need to know about voting during the Pandemic.
Listen to our interview with Meloni on Living in New Bern and Beyond Show – Episode 157 at the 10:40 minute mark.
Here’s the Q & A session with Meloni Wray. The Podsquad asked the questions and Meloni answered them:
Question: Do you need ID to vote in North Carolina?
Answer: No. That was a court case that has been in the works for a while and they did a partial decision, but it does NOT affect the November 2020 election.
Question: When is the deadline to register to vote?
Answer: The registration deadline is October 9. Fill out the voter registration form and provide either your driver’s license ID or last four of your social security number. We have to have it by 5 p.m. on October 9. If you miss that deadline, you can register and vote the same day during early voting, but then you have to bring proof of residency with you.
Question: Do you have to go to the CC Board of Elections Office to register?
Answer: You do not if you do it before October 9. You can mail a form, fax, or email as well.
Question: When is Early Voting?
Answer: Early Voting starts on October 15 at 8 a.m. at the CC Board of Elections Office, Cove City Fire Department, Vanceboro Fire Department, New Beginnings Ministry of Faith in Havelock in the Slocum Shopping Center, and the new location in Berne Square near Planet Fitness in New Bern. Early Voting ends on October 31 at 3 p.m.
Question: What are my options to vote?
Answer: Vote with an absentee ballot, vote early, or vote on election day – November 3 from 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Question: How do I request an absentee ballot?
Answer: Fill out the State Absentee Ballot Request Form for 2020. You can find them online at CravenVote.com, our website with lots of information, or at the NC State Board website at NCSBE.gov. Through that website, there is also an online portal where you can enter the information and it sends us a completed form for you. Those requests will be taken until October 27 at 5 p.m. The standard turnaround time is a week to 10 days, but right now, we’re doing 3 – 4 day, not any later than 5 day turnaround.
Question: How are you preparing to handle everything?
Answer: We employ two extra part time staff, technically it’s me and two full time staff, then we have two part time – full time people who come in when we need them throughout the year and one extra who comes in during elections. I was able to get two more election part times which really wasn’t enough, because we didn’t anticipate this large volume, but we’re getting it done. We will start counting the ballots on September 29. We have a Multi-partisan Assistance Team (MAT Team) to help count the absentee ballots quicker.
Question: Where to vote on Election Day?
Answer: Visit CravenVote.com and go to check your voter registration information and also go to the state board website or call us at 252-636-6610 and we can look you up.
Question: If you receive an absentee ballot, can you change your mind and vote in person?
Answer: You can do that, just discard your absentee ballot.
Question: Instead of mailing the absentee ballot, can you deliver it to the CC Board of Elections Office?
Answer: You can bring it in person to an early voting site, although we prefer that you deliver it to our office located at 406 Craven St. in New Bern. If you deliver it to an early voting site, you have to stand in line with everyone else and you have to sign a delivery affidavit. Tell us who you are and your relationship to the voter on the ballot. Only a voter or a voter’s near relative is allowed to deliver a ballot in person.
Question: Can you track your absentee ballot?
Answer: Yes, if you put it in the mail, you can ballot track it with the bar codes to see where it has been. When you bring it in person or when we receive it, we log it into the computer. You can immediately go out on the same voter tool where you can see your sample ballot, if you’re registered, all of that. At the bottom of your information, it says absentee request, it’s really tracking your ballot, not the request. It will tell you if we received it and if we accepted it or not.
Question: When do absentee ballots need to be postmarked?
Answer: It has to be postmarked by November 3, 2020. It has to be received by November 6, 2020. My best suggestion is when you get it, vote it, and get it in here.
Question: For those who plan to vote in person, how is that being handled?
Answer: You will be 6 feet distancing. The workers will be wearing masks spaced 6 feet apart. When a voter enters, they’re not required to wear a facemask, but we prefer they do. If someone would like a facemask, we will have some extras on hand. When voters approach, they will be given their own voter pen. We can’t give the stickers this year, so they will carry that pen with them to mark the ballot and keep. That is their I voted sticker. When they get their ballot and then go vote, they still have to be 6 feet apart. The booths will be six feet apart. After every voter, each station has to be wiped down and cleaned. We will have a designated cleaner at every site.
Question: Is it legal for people to hand out lists at voting sites that don’t’ include all candidates?
Answer: It is legal. It can’t resemble a ballot, if it does, it has to note that it wasn’t produced from Craven County Board of Elections. If you’re handed a list, it has to have a legend on it that tells you who paid for it and whether it was authorized or not authorized by the candidates. If you get literature that does not have the proper legends, you need to call us.
Meloni encourages voters to take responsibility to look up the election laws where they live. She said, “Be prepared on who you’re going to vote for before you go vote. We can’t provide you with information on the candidates. Also be prepared in case it rains, bring an umbrella. Be patient with the workers because we are all facing tough times.”
Special thanks to Meloni Wray and the Craven County Board of Elections Team for doing your best during the pandemic.
Please let us know if you have any questions by sending us an email.