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North Carolina’s Day of Canvass: Where Votes Are Counted

NOTE: Visit demnc.co/canvass to learn more about the “Day of Canvass” and how you can help monitor the process.

The “Day of Canvass” is when all 100 county boards of elections compile election results from all of their precincts and certify the election’s outcome. In most cases, the canvass meeting is held at the county board of elections office (find them at demnc.co/yourboe).

By law, in even-numbered years like 2020, county boards meet at 11 a.m. on the 10th day after Election Day (Nov. 13). Boards will participate in pre-canvass meetings in the days leading up to Canvass, and the Day of Canvass itself can run multiple days, depending on the volume of ballots being considered. Following the county canvass, the state board approves the offi cial election results.

To conduct the canvass, the county examines returns from its precincts, including:

1. absentee ballots, especially those received after Election Day or absentee envelopes with deficiencies;

2. provisional ballots, such as those cast by voters with registration problems; and

3. the possibility of sample hand-to-eye paper ballot counts.

Canvass meetings are open to the public, including voters concerned about the status of their ballot, as well as partisan observers, advocacy groups, and members of the media interested in how the count will impact voters and election results.

In 2020, all eyes are on North Carolina’s Day of Canvass.

Due to record absentee voting in 2020, the Day of Canvass could decide North Carolina’s next governor and U.S. Senator, our judiciary, legislative and local races, and even the Presidency. And while absentee ballot processing began on Sept. 29, due to record absentee voting and the probability that tens of thousands of ballots could be delivered after Election Day, Day of Canvass proceedings will be lengthier than in prior years, spreading over several days or more.

Because of the stakes, these Canvass events could also be more contentious as various stakeholders attempt to document or challenge the process.

That’s why we’ll be there. (And encourage you to be too.)

Democracy North Carolina wants to ensure that the voices of all eligible North Carolina voters are heard and all of our 2020 votes are counted. As a result, we’ll be deploying Canvass Monitors to observe and document the process and assist voters.

Please contact Democracy NC at our canvass hotline (855-4-WE-VOTE) if you observe or experience:

  • Voters or others denied access to in-person Canvass meetings,
  • Heated partisan debates influencing the canvass process or results,
  • Contentious voter challenges or other barriers to counting every vote,
  • Incidents of voter intimidation, threats, or violence, or
  • Any other occurrences that you feel negatively impacted an otherwise fair election outcome.

To alert us to problems at Canvass proceedings in real time, please call: 855-4-WE-VOTE (855-493-8683)

North Carolina's 2020 Day of Canvass: Where Votes Are Counted

View our handy one-pager and spread the word encouraging NC to count every vote.

Ensuring We #COUNTEVERYVOTE May Take Time

While we’ve come to expect election results on Election Day or the following morning, this year that may be impossible. It may take several days, or even weeks, before we learn the results of the Presidential election and many important state and local races in our community. Results on a longer timeline are okay.

In fact, it’s a sign that our democracy is working.

Our democracy is healthiest when all of our voices are heard and all of our votes are counted. This year, as we attempt to keep our loved ones safe during a deadly pandemic, more people in our communities will be voting by mail (absentee) than ever before. This means results may come in later than years past, for a few reasons:

  • Absentee ballots take longer to count because of security measures to verify the accuracy of those ballots and because many states provide voters the opportunity to correct problems with their absentee ballots. In NC, voters with absentee ballot problems have the options to “cure” these issues, including if the voter did not sign the voter certification or signed in the wrong place, or if the voter’s witness did not print name or address or signed on the wrong line.
  • Some states cannot even begin counting ballots until after the polls have closed on election night, so it will take extra time for them to ensure every eligible ballot is counted. In NC, county boards of elections will accept absentee ballots received in the mail through 5 p.m. November 12, provided that they are postmarked on or before Election Day, November 3.
  • Many states may be operating with reduced election staff this year because of the coronavirus, so many of their duties will take longer. In most cases in NC, county staff will be working hard to safely count votes and certify results during in-person Canvass meetings. The demands of social distancing to keep staff and the public safe may delay the process and results.

When election officials take the time to process every ballot, it means all our votes are being counted, and our voices are being heard. We should not let bogus accusations of fraud or stolen elections stop officials from counting every vote and silencing our communities.

In 2020, our elections are over when we count every vote.

To learn more about North Carolina’s process of counting every vote, visit demnc.co/countallvotes.