Curious About How the Board of Elections Works?

How much do you know about your local Board of Elections?

When we say “Board of Elections,” we’re really referring to two bodies– one is the county-level board of elections (or BOE), and one is the state-level board of elections.

County Board of Elections

The Board of Elections (BOE) on the county level has a big job. It includes:

  • Making rules and regulations
  • Choosing where poll workers are stationed
  • Count all ballots (mail-in, absentee, and day-of)
  • Investigate irregularities and report violations to the State Board
  • Purchase ballots, ballot boxes, voting booths, maps, flags, cards, and other materials needed for voting

Each of North Carolina’s 100 counties has a board of five people. Generally, the board is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats who are appointed by the State Board of Elections. The Governor THEN appoints the chair of each (yes, all 100) county board for a total of five folks. They each serve two-year terms.

There are non-appointed paid workers on the county level, too! These people apply for the job and are hired just like you applied for your job and got it. Generally, your local board of elections will have a full-time Director, Deputy Director, Election Specialists (who do general administrative work throughout the year), and Voter Registration Specialists. If you have a voting problem, call them first!

State Board of Elections

Like the County Boards, the North Carolina State Board of Elections is made up of five appointed members— two Democrats and two Republicans recommended by their state party chair, and one chair. All members are appointed by the Governor. Regular employees of the State BOE include an Executive Director, IT workers, Campaign Finance workers, Elections Specialists (statewide canvassers and candidate specialists), legal counsel, and others.

Other Election Workers

  • Most of the people you see working during early voting and on Election Day are Election Officials, also called precinct officials or poll workers. They manage the day to day operations of a voting site, such as setting up the voting equipment, checking in voters, processing ballots, assisting voters with special needs, and closing down/securing the voting site at the end of the day. To qualify for this job (there’s a stipend!), you have to:
    • Be a registered voter who lives in the precinct that you want to work in
    • Not be related to a candidate in the election
    • Not hold office with a candidate or political party
    • Not be an elected government official
    • Not be a spouse, sibling, parent, or child of other poll workers
  • A multi-partisan assistance team, or “MAT,” is a group appointed by a county board to provide assistance with mail-in absentee voting and other services to voters living at facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. These teams are made of at least two people with different party affiliations, or people who were unanimously voted for by a county board. They help people vote while protecting their confidentiality
  • Student Election Assistants must be 17 by Election Day to serve at their local polls. They must be in good academic standing and have permission from the parent or guardian as well as the principal of the school. 

Between the political maps that are gerrymandered to hell and the state budget not including the things that people need– like Medicaid expansion, housing funds, and worker’s rights– it’s looking like business as usual for North Carolina.

Except, this shouldn’t be the usual. We’ve got to remember that it is and should be unusual for our government to do anything other than work for the people. That’s the job. We can and will hold our elected officials responsible– or we will organize to get them out.

Our Democracy Series is meant to cut through the confusion. And while we usually focus on the “101s” of local democracy, we’ve got some things on our radar for next year. We believe that you should be prepared, too. 

What's Next?

What’s your experience been like with local elections? Have you ever done work at the polls? Notice anything different about your local elections this year that you haven’t seen before? Tell us all about it!

Are you passionate about Rural North Carolina? Ready to organize in small towns across the state? We’ve got NEW positions open right now, y’all! Join the Down Home team today!