The Guilford County Board of Elections office was slow to get results posted on Tuesday night, March 3, but it wasn’t because of any problems in Guilford County.
The North Carolina Board of Elections ordered all 100 counties in the state not to post any results until all the polls in the state had closed, and there were problems in two precincts that resulted in the polls staying open later than 7:30 p.m.
The problems were in Forsyth and Bertie counties. In Forsyth County a precinct ran out of ballots and voters had to wait for the ballots to be delivered.
As soon as the state gave permission at 8:15 p.m., the early voting totals were posted. Since about 40,000 people voted early, which was more than one-third of the votes cast, that first post was a good indication of how the races would end the night.
This was the first election in Guilford and many other counties in North Carolina where paper ballots instead of electronic voting machines were used.
Guilford County Director of Elections Charlie Collicutt said, “I’m very pleased with the way it went. Our timeline for training and implementation was extremely short.”
Collicutt said, “I did wake up in the middle of the night wondering if we had done enough.”
He said he did send out some extra packets of ballots to some precincts this morning just in case, but in Guilford County every precinct had enough ballots. Collicutt said that it didn’t take the precinct workers long to get comfortable with the new system using paper ballots.
Although the voter now fills out a paper ballot, the counting is done by a machine, and much like the electronic system, the results are brought to the elections office on something like a flash drive.
Collicutt said that on Election Day, “There is never a human hand counting ballots.”
But he said that after the election there will be a hand count of random precincts as a check to make certain the system is working.
Collicutt said that in the case of a recount, the actual ballots would be put through a high speed tabulator. With the electronic system there were no physical ballots to recount. The precinct totals were recounted, but there was no way to go back and recount each ballot.