'Up Front' Has Valuable Information for Voters This Week on Podcast
Sep 09, 2020 02:30PM
By Jason Huddle
Episode 74: Know Before You Vote!
With so many questions surrounding the upcoming vote, we wanted answers. This week, we invited Martin Ericson, Chairman of the Cabarrus County Board of Elections, to discuss what everyone needs to know before they cast their ballots this fall. We discuss how mail-in and early voting will work, as well as precautions being taken to vote in-person safely. Plus, we also to to Steve Hall from the Mustang Owner's Museum to talk about this weekend's up coming Carolina Cruise!
For more information regarding voting in North Carolina, visit http://ncsbe.gov,
Cabarrus County Residents should also visit http://cabarruscounty.us/elections, and any NC residents who want more information on mail-in balloting should visit http://votebymail.ncsbe.gov.
Jason Huddle 00:00
There have been a lot of questions circulating in the media on this year's voting and how it will be done fairly and safely. This week, we invited the chairman of the board of elections for Cabarrus County into our studio to answer some tough questions. What are some things that are in place to prevent someone from hypothetically sending in a mail in ballet and running over and doing early voting before my ballot gets in there, so that I've essentially voted twice. Plus we'll discuss other topics including early voting and a popular myths surrounding absentee ballots. And we'll talk with Steve Hall from the Mustang Owners Museum to talk about this weekend's Carolina Cruise. That's all coming up right now on Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, a presentation of CabCo Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Cabarrus Eye Center, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Level Up Realty, New Hope Worship Center, and Walk Cabarrus. I'm your host Jason Huddle. Hello, my friends and welcome to another edition of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. There has been a lot of talk in the media lately about what voting is going to look like this year. Will it be fair? Will it be safe? These are the questions that are permeating our news stories, among others. So I figured let's go to the source. Let's talk to the Cabarrus. County board of elections. How likely is it that someone could defraud the voting system? What precautions are being taken to make sure that those that don't feel safe in this COVID world can still vote and make sure their votes are counted? These are some tough questions that are going to be answered today. And I'm looking forward to getting into them. But not before shameless plug time. The September issue of Cabarrus Magazine is online and in stands and I'm kind of proud about this one because we actually are talking about Up Front Cabarrus Magazine, you know, it hit me that we have had some great episodes of this podcast. And not everybody listens to podcasts. So I figured we would pick out three different episodes over the last few months that have been extremely relevant and informative. And basically take those transcripts and turn them into articles for the magazine, sort of a cross promotion between the magazine and the podcast, but also an opportunity to expose those people who don't listen to this program, or at least don't listen on a regular basis to some episodes they might have missed that they really could use. The episodes that we highlight in this month's edition include the first part of our conversation on race relations, which was a great episode, how to work from home effectively, and probably most important, a word of encouragement where we had pastor Dale Jenkins from New Hope Worship Center in to talk about how people can process everything that has been going on over the last few months than when we recorded that interview, we were just at the beginning of this, but the information that he gave, and the encouragement, quite frankly, that he gave, still is relevant and still applies, even months down the road. So I hope you will pick up your issue of Cabarrus Magazine this month. If you don't know where to find this, just go to Cabarrus Magazine. com, click on the where to find this tab. And there's a Google map that lists all of the locations that we are currently available. Figure out where the closest location is to you and where you live or work. And go pick up a copy of Cabarrus Magazine. And that is today's shameless plug time. Martin Erickson, the chairman of the board of elections for Cabarrus County will be in studio next, to answer all our tough questions, and you'll want to stick around for the end of this episode. We've got a special conversation with Steve Hall for the Mustang Owners Museum and he's going to tell us all about this weekend's Carolina Cruise. That's all coming up and right after the break, stay tuned.
Jason Huddle 05:50
Welcome back to the program. I am joined today by Martin Ericson. He is the chairman of the board of elections here in Cabarrus County and I appreciate him coming in. Because there are a lot of questions surrounding this year's vote in just around two months, we will be casting our vote, not only for President of the United States, but all these other elected offices. And we want to make sure that it's done safely and correctly, without any errors at all on anybody's part. So I asked Martin to come in and talk to you guys about what it's going to look like this year. What are your options as far as voting and how we're going to be able to vote safely? So first of all, Martin, thanks a lot for being on Up Front with us today.
Martin Ericson 06:36
Thank you for the opportunity.
Jason Huddle 06:38
So first of all, let's just talk about the board of elections and what it is what are your responsibilities?
Martin Ericson 06:45
Well, the Board of Elections consists of five appointees that are responsible for conducting the elections in Cabarrus County. We supervise the staff and we're very lucky here in Cabarrus County that we can have some permanent staff. Not all counties in North Carolina are large enough to justify that. We set the rules we set the times and places for early voting. We discuss and set where the precinct voting places are. And also handle the absentee voting. The balance that come in for absentee by mail voting.
Jason Huddle 07:26
Okay, so let's talk a little bit about voting in the past. You know, it's kind of runs like clockwork, this year. It's, it's a lot different. I'm not going to say it's a little different. It's a lot different. So let's talk about what are some things that people need to know about voting this year, for instance, mail in balotting. How is that working? And what do people do if they want to send a mail in ballot?
Martin Ericson 07:49
Okay, not to contradict you. A lot of this is the same there have been a few changes due to the pandemic. But I think what has changed is the amount of attention has been placed on the different types of voting, absentee by mail voting here in North Carolina is no excuse. It used to be you had to be out of town or physically unable to come to the polls to cast an absentee ballot. But as it stands right now, you don't have to have an excuse. The big change this year is that you only have to have one witness to witness you vote and sign the back of your return envelope that's reduced from two witnesses thinking it would be easier for people in this era of pandemic that we don't have to have two witnesses for a vote. It's very easy to request a an absentee ballot. In fact, I'm here in Cabarrus County we've already had more than 13,000 requests for absentee ballots. This compares to less than 1000 at a similar point in 2016. As of today, you can go online and request your absentee ballot. If you go to the State Board of Election site, which is N C S B E.gov. That stands for North Carolina State Board of Elections.gov. You can actually apply from your computer, your smartphone, your tablet, for the absentee ballot to be mailed to you. Those ballots will start mailing out September 4, first come first serve as far as people who have made the request with the postal holiday on Labor Day, I would expect people to start receiving their balots Tuesday through Thursday after Labor Day. And they can immediately if they care to gather a witness, execute their ballot, making sure they vote on both the front and back of the ballot and mail it back. And then they're they're finished for the election season. Another innovation that the State Board of Elections has put into place is that you will be able to go online and see that you have requested a ballot that about been mailed to you. You'll see when it's in the postal stream heading back to the board of elections, when it's received and when it's accepted. We have always done. absentee ballots has become more and more popular over the years. It's much more popular this year.
Jason Huddle 10:24
In case you missed that website, don't worry, we'll put it in the show notes for you with a direct link so you can check that out. Let me ask you something, Martin, what is the difference? Or is there a difference between a mail in ballot and an absentee ballot?
Martin Ericson 10:38
in North Carolina there really is no difference. Different states do this differently. Some states out west mail a ballot automatically to every registered voter. Other states mail an absentee ballot request form to every voter here in North Carolina prior to the online system coming on, you had to go out and get yourself an absentee ballot request form, mail it into us at the board of elections for your local county. And then we would mail you a ballot. So it does take some voter initiative here in North Carolina to receive an absentee ballot.
Jason Huddle 11:19
Now, I have always heard that absentee ballots are not counted until after all the other ballots have been counted. And even then they're really only counted if there's a possibility that it could put one candidate over the other. Is there any truth to that?
Martin Ericson 11:36
That is a very common myth. That's a very common question. Actually, absentee ballots are counted properly, some of the first ballots that are counted. We don't tally them. We don't come up with the results. But we could not in an orderly fashion come up with election results if we waited until the last minute here in North Carolina. Also how do we know whether a race is close with the exception of just a few of the local races, many of the races are statewide. And if everybody waited, there would be really no way of telling. So the board of elections will be meeting starting in late September. And these are publicly noticed meetings, the public can come and see us do this, bringing in the balance, inspecting the envelopes and preparing them to be counted, actually putting them into the tabulator, which is what you would normally see in a precinct, we have a special one of those for the absentee ballots. We put them in and we just don't pull the tape or actually have the results until polls close on election day. So really the first two things you're going to see if you go to the county website to look at the results on election night. absentee ballots and one stop voting are the two first things that appear, and then we start seeing the precincts as they come in.
Jason Huddle 13:05
Very good. I need to go to break. But when I get back, I want to talk about safety protocols that you guys are taking this year, as well as what you're doing to prevent any voter fraud that a lot of people are afraid of this year, more than any other. So if you'll stick around, we'll head to break and we'll be back with Martin Ericson for the board of elections right after this. Stay tuned.
Jason Huddle 14:38
Welcome back to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine joined here in studio today by Martin Ericson. He's the chairman of the board of elections for Cabarrus County. And Martin has been walking us through the difference between absentee ballots and mail in ballots and how you can vote. First of all, let's talk about early voting is early voting still available. This year,
Martin Ericson 15:00
It definitely is, in fact here in Cabarrus County for the first time ever. We will have 17 consecutive days of voting October 15 through October 31. Monday through Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That first day is a Thursday. So we'll be voting from Thursday, October 15 through Saturday, October 31. So we will be voting on Halloween this year.
Jason Huddle 15:26
Oh Wow. So where can people vote?
Martin Ericson 15:30
Tentatively we have scheduled four sites here in Cabarrus County. I think some of the lease signings and such are still moving forward and some of the individual buildings in the complexes will still be determined. But at a high level. We are looking at very large spaces to give us room to spread out due to the pandemic. We will be voting at the Kannapolis train station. Which is one that we've used in the past, but the large room there we feel is going to be adequate for us. Other places we will be voting will be the Charlotte Motor Speedway, they have a building in the infield that they say we can use. And then two larger installations, one's going to be the Cabarrus Arena and Event Center, the exact building we're still looking at and determining which area but it's the minimum 10,000 square feet possibly as large as 70,000 Square feet.
Jason Huddle 16:32
they they have quite a lot of space out there.
Martin Ericson 16:34
They do and then the final place is at Northern Plaza, it is on Concord Parkway North used to be a Northern Tools location and before that Bi-Lo so all of these are large spaces because as a precaution, the idea for this election season is keep your distance.
Jason Huddle 16:57
Sure so unlike previous years, you will not not be able to vote at the board of elections office like you have in the past.
Martin Ericson 17:03
That is correct. And that's important to note that we will still have a role there. And I can talk to you about the return of absentee ballots. I'll have a key role for that. But the room that we use there, although very convenient for the staff, and the voters was just too small to spread out. If we spread out the voting booths, we would not be able to handle near the number of people we need to handle.
Jason Huddle 17:29
Dure that's completely understandable. Now early voting is now called one stop voting to why is that?
Martin Ericson 17:36
Okay, the nice thing about one stop voting. The deadline to register to vote Election Day is October 9. But if you have not done that, or you need to change your address, if you come to one stop early voting, and you're a resident of Cabarrus County, you can come you can accomplish everything you need, you can register, you can change address, you can vote, that same day. And another important thing to know about early voting, you can go to any of the sites. It doesn't have to be the one closest to you. Any site in Cabarrus County is good for any Cabarrus County voter.
Jason Huddle 18:17
Let me ask you since we're talking about large rooms and that's a precaution that you guys are taking what are some other precautions that the Board of Elections is preparing for as people prepare to vote in person?
Martin Ericson 18:29
Yes, we've received input from the State Board of Elections and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on how to safely conduct this election. You will come in, you will notice markings on the floor to spread people out. There will be plexiglass barriers at your check in station between the the election worker and yourself at the door. You will be offered a mask we will have hand sanitizer and many places, all of the election workers will have protective equipment on mask and or face shield depending upon their roles. And one thing here in Cabarrus County, we use a paper ballot. Well, it used to be that you had a pen that was you just left behind in the voting booth. Now we're going to give every voter a pen that they can take with them after they vote, and we've never been used before. And it's either take it with you or we'll have to trash it. We will be cleaning the voting booth after each person goes in to vote.
Jason Huddle 19:38
So that's going to slow things down a little bit, right?
Martin Ericson 19:40
That's the reason we are going to try to have although larger areas even more voting booths. We normally have a four station voting booth Well, two of the stations will be blocked off. So you can only use the two that are opposite each other with high petitions in between and then the voting moves spread out. That's another reason that we went with a full 17 days, we have very long hours and many days to go ahead and vote.
Jason Huddle 20:10
Do you know what the average on a presidential year with the average percentages of eligible voters in Cabarrus County that actually vote?
Martin Ericson 20:19
It's usually in the 70s. Much higher than our municipal elections. If I can put in a plug for our municipal election, go ahead. Lots of times, we only have a turnout of around 12%.
Jason Huddle 20:31
It's pretty sad.
Martin Ericson 20:32
And if you think of it, that means a candidate who receives six or 7% of the vote, are determining a lot of the things that impact you locally.
Jason Huddle 20:41
And it's one thing we've learned recently. It's that it's local elections that make the difference in how your city is operating and running on a regular basis right?
Martin Ericson 20:51
So turnout this November, but do me a favor turnout next November.
Jason Huddle 20:56
Absolutely. That's great advice. All right let's talk about something that is on everyone's minds. And it seems to be on the media's as well is the idea of voter fraud, especially with the increase as you said, you've had an increase in absentee and mail in ballot requests. What are some things that are in place to prevent someone from hypothetically sending in a mail in ballot and running over and doing early voting before my ballot gets in there so that I've essentially voted twice? How do we how do we know that can't happen?
Martin Ericson 21:27
Well, first of all, let me point out in North Carolina, it is a felony to vote twice. Now, if you mail it in, or if you vote at early voting, come Election Day, you may notice at your polling place, there'll be long lists of the people who have already voted. When you come to your check in your record will have been flagged that you've already voted now, perfectly valid, you're talking about if somebody votes absentee, and votes even the same day because absentee ballots have to be ready received either Election Day or within three days after the election if postmark that day in early voting and absentee voting, your vote is what's called a retrievable load. We don't put your name on it. But there is a tracking number, such that if for any reason that we determine that you shouldn't have voted, such as you've already voted, that vote can actually be backed out on what would also happen at that point is we would investigate, we would have to report it up to the State Board of Elections if someone voted twice, and it can be referred for prosecution.
Jason Huddle 22:39
What is to stop people in the mail in voting from let's say, my grandmother just died a month ago, that hasn't worked through the system yet. And so I request a mail in ballot for her and I get some people to sign off as a witness and we send in a dead persons but what's to prevent people from doing that?
Martin Ericson 22:59
Well first of all we do get records of from Social Security and others as the people who have passed away. So it may not be acknowledged immediately, but it would be tracked and eventually referred for prosecution. The thing to remember, we tried to air on the side of every voter and count every legitimate vote. I've found that there's many things that can be speculated about. But first of all, enough voter fraud to move any election would be very, very rare. The major instances of voter fraud in North Carolina have come in some very small election such as I soil and water district commissioner.
Jason Huddle 23:45
Someone really wanted that job I guess.
Martin Ericson 23:48
I know that that that always boggled my mind.
Jason Huddle 23:52
All right, Martin Erickson with the Cabarrus Board of elections. Thanks for joining us again today. Giv us That website one more time where people can go for more information about whatever questions they have.
Martin Ericson 24:05
Yes, the state website is n c s b e.gov. And it has a wealth of information. Also on the Cabarrus County website. Cabarrus County.us. You do have to look under government departments, board of elections, but that is our local side.
Jason Huddle 24:29
Well, you guys, the important message here is that you need to vote and you can do it safely, whether you mail in or vote in person, or vote early. There really is no excuse not to vote, right, Martin?
Martin Ericson 24:43
That is correct.
Jason Huddle 24:44
Well, thank you for joining us today. I appreciate you coming in and sharing with us and we will be back to talk with Steve Hall from the Mustang Owners Museum in just a second. He is going to talk about the Carolina Cruise happening this weekend. You guys stay tuned.
Jason Huddle 25:45
I am here in the newly reopened Mustang Owners Museum in Concord after we moved into phase 2.5. And I'm sitting here with Steve Hall. He is the owner and manager of the museum. Steve, first of all, thanks for jumping on the program with us real quick.
Steve Hall 26:39
Oh, appreciate you spend some time with us. Thank you.
Jason Huddle 26:42
So Steve, you have a huge event coming up this weekend, the Carolina Cruise In and why don`t you tell us a little bit about it?
Steve Hall 26:48
Certainly being a car person, as I'm sure many, many folks are. We've been very limited this year with that car activity that we can go to or do because of the phase two situation. So we want to try to create something that was going to be inviting cruise but not something on a larger scale similar to what the Woodward Dream Cruises is in Detroit. That particular cruise draws close to a million people each year. And that's their estimate but still is a pretty strong number. So that would be kind of interesting to do something here the Concord area the Kannapolis area, Cabarrus County, Charlotte, Mecklenburg is a huge car area is besides just NASCAR. I think NASCAR makes a portion of it but there's a huge car following. We thought we could do something large this year to let people do something that's safe in phase two. And that is an all day car cruise. The car cruise basically uses highway 29 and Dale Earnhardt Boulevard between the new ballpark in Kannapolis and Charlotte Motor Speedway to cruise and what we do is we basically create a rolling car show the cruisers can join at any time at any location along the route we have posted that starts at nine to six you can join attend o'clock you can join one o'clock you can do whenever you want, you can leave the cruise whenever you want. You can go do other activities such as lunch or as a car group go to another destination, you kind of pick your time and locations and what you want to do as part of being part of the Carolina cruise. It just gives you options to do things. Now obviously, in phase two, we're very limited. And what we like I said, it's all about the car cruise, the years to come when we're in phase three, and we have other activities that we can start to bring into this. We hope to expand the activity list, including Charlotte Motor Speedway and the ballpark. So basically, the idea is just to kind of create something for the car guys at the same time. We're hoping that we're going to create some sort of some economic impact in the area for shops from restaurants shopping, what have you just to bring some more economic impact to the area because they too have been affected by the face to situation.
Jason Huddle 28:57
Memories. 98.3 FM is going to be out at the ballpark I believe doing a live remote I think from 11 to 2 somewhere in that yes mark. So Buddy from 98.3 will be out there and doing interviews and things like that. So if you want to stop by and talk to them, I'm sure they love to talk to you. And if you've lived in Cabarrus County anytime from like the 40s to 2000 this is going to be a chance for you to revisit those days of cruising up and down Highway 29. I remember we used to do that as teenagers and the generation before me did the same. So this is going to be a great day. I hope we have great weather so that we can all relive those days right?
Steve Hall 29:36
Absolutely, speaking of weather, it's supposed to be 80 with no rain. And so I couldn't pick a better day right now then. Then that if that is the correct weather report we're going to have on Saturday so it should be perfect.
Jason Huddle 29:48
Sounds like a great day for a convertible and a classic cars cruising up and down the highway in Cabarrus County Steve Hall with the Mustang Owners Museum and Carolina Cruisin thanks for showing up today and telling us about this event.
Steve Hall 30:03
Thank you for having us and we look forward to see everybody out there on Saturday.
Jason Huddle 30:09
I want to thank my guest today, Martin Ericson from the Cabarrus County Board of Elections and Steve Hall from the Mustang Owners Museum. Really enjoyed talking to Martin about these different concerns that people have regarding voting, but I think the underlying message is a go out and vote do your duty. People died for this right for you to vote, so please don't dishonor them by staying at home or not voting. As Martin said, there is no excuse not to vote, you can mail it in. You can go early vote you can stand in line on November 3, the choice is yours, but there is no excuse not to vote. So please make sure you do that. And I also hope you check out the Carolina Cruise this weekend if you get the chance. It sounds like it's gonna be a lot of fun. That is all the time I have for today. So I would like to remind you that you have been listening to up front with Cabarrus Magazine, a presentation of Cabco Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group, Cabarrus Eye Center, Cabarrus Health Alliance, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Level Up Realty, New Hope Worship Center and Walk Cabarrus. I've been your host Jason Huddle until next week. Better start thinking about who you're gonna check on that ballot.