Archived Opinion

A call for help from veteran election officials

A call for help from veteran election officials

As two of the longest serving election officials in North Carolina, we write from Hickory with an important invitation for voters across the state — and an urgent warning. 


We are Republican and Democratic officers of the Catawba County Board of Election, with 39 years of combined service. We disagree on many topics, but we are united in making the voting process work fairly and securely for our county’s citizens.  In fact, having board members from opposing parties, plus partisan diversity among poll workers, provides an added dimension of security because our presence alongside each other strengthens our oaths to follow election law as it is, not as our parties wish it might be.  

Here’s our invitation: come join us! Whether you think elections are full of fraud or just wonder how ballots are counted, we invite you to get deep inside the system by working as an election official in your community. 

In mid-August, county boards of elections across N.C. will be appointing poll workers — we call them judges — who will be trained, paid and assigned to a polling place to help administer the 2023 and 2024 elections. You can use the State Board of Elections’ website  to sign up to serve or contact your county political party or your county elections board. 

By becoming poll workers, many skeptics have learned that we have a remarkable system in North Carolina — the best in the nation — because it involves citizens from different parties working side by side with a professional staff at each stage of the process. No system run by humans is perfect, certainly mistakes can happen, but we suspect you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how many procedures are in place to safeguard a citizen’s right to vote, as well as the election’s overall accuracy.

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Sadly, an epidemic of misinformation is taking a toll on people’s confidence in election security and accuracy. People hear something strange about a voting machine in Wisconsin or Arizona, true or false, and then attack our procedures and officials.  Now, some legislators in Raleigh are promoting a host of election changes in the name of improving voter confidence. 

Some changes would have a profound impact on your voting experience. 

In a  recent letter , we joined other long-serving county board members to urge legislators to talk with local election officials about the possible unintended consequences of these proposals. For example, one bill (HB772) would allow up to 12 political observers to “move freely around the voting enclosure” and make audio or video recording in various situations. As a practical matter, that level of activity would be impossible to supervise and would likely increase, rather than reduce, voters’ concerns about secure and secret balloting. 

Another proposal (SB749) says the county board of elections director would not be hired by the board but by county commissioners – whose election the director oversees. This would put that director, and by extension all the professional staff, in an impossible situation.

Another bill (SB747) says by next fall county boards must authenticate absentee voters by matching signatures on ballot forms and old registration forms. The process is not clearly defined or funded. It would be prudent to recognize that other states have taken more time to develop safeguards so signatures (and ballots) are not wrongly rejected. 

We’re very concerned that some of these proposals could harm rather than enhance confidence in our elections. We invite and need your help. Share your views with your N.C. House and Senate members, and please urge them to discuss these bills with local election officials to learn about their practical consequences. 

We have a good election system in North Carolina. By working together — board members, professional staff, voters and lawmakers — we can resolve problems that arise and maintain a voting process that is accessible, secure and fair.

(Republican David Hood is the secretary and former chair of the Catawba County Board of Elections, and Democrat Barry Cheney is the current board chair.)

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