by Blake Proctor
Meeting live-and-in-person at the Board offices for the first time in some months, the Bladen Board of Elections held its monthly meeting on Tuesday, the 13th. Chair Louella Thompson called the meeting to order at 5 pm and turned the floor over to Director Chris Williams.
Mr. Williams informed the Board that, with the last elections over and the next several months away, staff is performing regular voter roll maintenance.
These activities include registering people; expunging voters who are no longer with us, whether by moving or having passed; deleting felons who’ve lost their voting rights or placing felons who have had their rights restored onto the eligible lists; those felons need to re-register in order to be moved back on the voter rolls.
He has received a memorandum from the state that the Bladen Board has permission to now begin purging very old voter rolls. Purging may be done either by burning the data or by shredding it.
He told the Board that they are holding paper data dating back as far as the 1990s, and this activity would clear much-needed space for coming years.
He also informed the Board members that there will be a District meeting for regional counties on May 4th. The Annual conference will be held August 2nd and 3rd. It has not been decided yet if the conference will be held in person or virtually. That decision will come closer to that date after the Covid19 status is known.
Although all Board activities are still in the “municipal-elections-are-going-to-be-held-in-November frame of mind, the reality may be quite different.
If the Legislature and the State Board of Elections decide that it is preferable that all municipal elections occur in newly-redistricted precincts, and since not all counties will have been redistricted come November, all municipal elections would be postponed. Any postponement will probably be until the 2022 primaries.
Most small or rural counties in North Carolina will have had minimal population shifts over the last decade and will require no redistricting.
On the other hand, a number of counties experiencing a large influx, or perhaps exodus, of population since 2010 will have to have their legislative districts revised. And most will be adding legislators who will be taken from smaller counties.
Right now, it is still the intention of the State Board to allow local Boards to open registration for election to municipal seats on July 2nd; however, the local Boards may be told otherwise in coming months.
If it is decided that the November 2021 elections are going to be postponed to the 2022 primaries, it has already been determined that local and primary races will appear on the same ballots.
Also, if the local elections are held in 2022, the terms of those electees will be shortened to the 2023 election date, so municipal elections will return to their normal odd-year elections.
Mr. Williams informed the Board that as of now, White Lake is the only Bladen town to be scheduling a referendum, that being serving liquor by the drink.
All business having been concluded, the meeting adjourned at 5:27 pm.