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October 25, 2021

Rowan Board of Elections changes decision to replace supervisor

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — After unanimously voting Tuesday to replace a supervisor, Rowan County Board of Elections members later reverted to an original list of workers because early voting was set to begin less than 48 hours later.

Executive Director Brenda McCubbins provided board members with a list of around 25 one-stop early voting workers for approval Tuesday. One-stop early voting begins Thursday at the Rowan County Board of Elections office, located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd West. Voting hours begin at 8 a.m. and span until 7 p.m.

While poll observers are designated by each county party, election officials are paid by the hour and must first pass a background check and be processed by human resources. Wages typically range around $13 an hour for supervisors and around $11 for workers, McCubbins said. Supervisors are tasked with working all day during one-stop early voting.

Board member George W. Benson said he was opposed to Richard Dillon serving as supervisor during one-stop early voting. Benson cited a concern he voiced in July when board members discussed the feasibility of curbside drive-thru voting for future elections.

In past elections, the county has provided reserved parking spaces for elections officials to assist voters with disabilities wishing to cast a ballot. During the 2020 election, a drive-thru option for curbside voting was implemented, but Benson called it “a disaster” at the July meeting, noting disruptions caused by a caravan of vehicles participating in a pro-Trump parade and a few vehicles holding “Make Good Trouble” signs that both made their way to the no-campaigning zone at the West End Plaza. State law provides a “buffer zone” at elections sites, with no campaigning allowed within 50 feet of the entrance.

In addition to those caravans, Benson said Tuesday he recalled speaking with Dillon during one-stop early voting in 2020 about needing more staff to help with curbside voting because more than 20 cars were waiting in line an hour after the voting site opened. Benson said he was told it would be handled but didn’t feel that it was.

All board members voted in support of Benson’s motion to replace Dillon as supervisor with Henry Diggs. McCubbins said staff could be short one worker if Dillon decided not to work during one-stop voting at all. Chairman John Hudson said the board could need to meet again if that happens.

Later in the day, board members agreed via email to move forward with the original list because Diggs declined a request from McCubbins to be supervisor. Additionally, training for one-stop elections officials begins Wednesday. McCubbins told the Post the board could call a special meeting, but it didn’t appear likely on Tuesday.

While there was not a meeting and vote to change course, Benson said the Board of Elections unanimously agreed to use the original list.

Also at the meeting, board members voted to accept three absentee ballots that have been submitted for the municipal election. To avoid setting up the machine for just three ballots, they will instead be secured and added to ballots received by Oct. 19 at 12:30 p.m., when the Board of Elections meets again.

McCubbins said a total of 179 absentee ballots have been sent out to voters. About 130 of those represent civilians, with half among nursing home facility residents.

Also at the meeting:

• McCubbins informed board members that Elections Coordinator Tiffany Powell is resigning. She began working for the Board of Elections in August 2020.

• Board members approved a list of elections observers and at-large observers submitted from the Rowan County Republican Party. The Rowan County Democratic Party submitted its list of at-large observers after the deadline, McCubbins said, and has not yet submitted its list of designated observers. Designated observers agree to specific shifts, while at-large observers are able to “come and go” during one-stop early voting. State law requires each party to submit both lists in writing no later than 10 a.m. on the fifth day prior to any primary or general election.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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