Skip to main content

2023 Elections Certified, Concerns Raised Towards Reasonable Impediment Affidavit Acceptance

MORRISVILLE, NC (12/01/2023) — The State Board of Elections unanimously certified the results of the October and November 2023 municipal elections in North Carolina on Tuesday. The Board’s decision followed the completion of a thorough canvassing process, ensuring the accuracy and integrity of the election outcomes.

On October 10, municipal elections and nonpartisan primaries took place in 20 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Approximately 75,000 voters, representing a turnout of about 10.6% of eligible voters, cast their ballots in these contests. Subsequently, on November 7, municipal elections were held in 465 municipalities across 86 counties, with over 515,000 voters participating. This accounted for a turnout of approximately 15.9% of the approximately 3.25 million eligible voters.

The State Board of Elections, comprising five members, voted unanimously to canvass the votes cast in all ballot items, within its jurisdiction, and authenticate the ballot count for these elections. This meticulous process ensures the accuracy and fairness of the election results.

In accordance with the law, county boards convened on November 17, the 10th day after Election Day, to conduct pre-canvass meetings and begin the official canvassing process. The duration of the canvass varied depending on the volume of valid ballots to be counted. Following the county canvass, the State Board approved the official election results on November 28.

This year, Democracy North Carolina, in collaboration with Common Cause North Carolina, hosted a comprehensive canvass monitoring program. The program trained dozens of canvass monitors to observe the final vote counts and assist voters during local boards of elections’ “Day of Canvass” and pre-canvass meetings in nearly 40 counties. Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Disability Rights NC, League of Women Voters NC, and You Can Vote also joined the efforts, deploying a significant number of canvass monitors across multiple counties in North Carolina.

The focus of this year’s canvass monitoring program was to evaluate the implementation of the Voter ID law and the Reasonable Impediment Affidavit (RIA), specifically examining their impact on the final number of provisional ballots accepted. Over 250 voters who cast a provisional ballot based on the need to use a RIA were contacted by program leads to ensure they had the appropriate information to cure their ballot. The most common issue found among these voters was the lack of knowledge to return to the county board showing proof of a valid ID to have their provisional ballot successfully counted.

Canvass monitors identified several inconsistencies in the acceptance of RIAs across the state. Notably, 44 in-person voters who completed an RIA in the November 2023 election had their ballots rejected. In some counties, boards initially rejected voters who indicated on their RIA that they did not bring their ID. However, after intervention from a canvass monitor, these ballots were ultimately approved, emphasizing the importance of focusing on the truthfulness of the statement rather than debating its reasonableness.

Democracy North Carolina’s Co-Executive Directors Cheryl Carter and Adrienne Kelly applaud the 2023 county and statewide canvass to finalize the certification of the municipal elections. However, there is a strong recognition of work needed to minimize the inconsistent and arbitrary way voters without an ID are treated by the various county boards of elections.

Kelly said, “The newly implemented voter ID law is complex and has a direct and disparate impact on those in Black and brown communities. Research has found that Black voters are more likely than white voters to lack a qualifying ID and therefore will be directly affected by the new guidance and its varied implementation.”

Carter said, “We take seriously the concerns raised by county canvass monitors regarding the objection to RIAs based on their reasonableness or acceptability. We must work diligently to address these concerns and provide clarity to ensure a consistent and fair process moving forward.”

For more information about the Day of Canvass and Democracy North Carolina’s canvass monitoring program, please visit


Democracy North Carolina is a statewide nonpartisan organization that uses research, organizing, and advocacy to strengthen democratic structures, build power among disenfranchised communities, and inspire confidence in a transformed political process that works for all.