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State Board Finalizes 2023 Municipal Elections, Changes Absentee Ballot Distribution Date


Press Release


The State Board of Elections on Tuesday unanimously certified the results of the October and November 2023 municipal elections in North Carolina.


On Oct. 10, municipal elections and nonpartisan primaries were held in 20 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Nearly 75,000 voters cast ballots, or a turnout of about 10.6% of the approximately 705,000 voters eligible to vote in these contests.


On Nov. 7, municipal elections were held in 465 municipalities across 86 counties. More than 515,000 voters cast ballots, or a turnout of about 15.9% of the approximately 3.25 million voters eligible to vote in these contests.


The Board voted 5–0 to canvass the votes cast in all ballot items within the jurisdiction of the State Board and authenticate the count in every ballot item in those elections.


“Canvass” means the entire process of determining that the votes have been counted and tabulated correctly, culminating in the authentication of the official election results. In municipal elections, the State Board canvasses the votes cast in multicounty contests and authenticates the count in every ballot item in the counties by determining that the votes have been counted and tabulated correctly.


This certification came after the county boards of elections with elections in October or November certified results at the county level and after a series of post-election audits by election officials verified the counts.


View the canvass documents folder. See Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell’s 2023 Municipal Elections Canvass & Certification Report (PDF).


“After extremely hard work by county elections offices across North Carolina, today we made sure that the votes of nearly 600,000 voters counted in these important municipal elections,” Brinson Bell said.


Post-election Audits and Recounts

After every election, elections officials conduct a series of audits to confirm the election results. In particularly close contests, county boards of elections may recount the ballots in accordance with state law.

The findings of post-election audits are detailed in the following reports:

  • Post-Election Audit Report for the Municipal Elections and Nonpartisan Primaries on October 10, 2023 (PDF)

  • Post-Election Audit Report for the Municipal Elections on November 7, 2023 (PDF)

The audits conducted after the October and November elections confirmed that results tabulated by machine are accurate and that there is no evidence of any fraud or other irregularities that could affect the outcome of a contest.


“These audits and recounts once again showed that voters can trust the certified and tested voting equipment to accurately count ballots in North Carolina elections, and they can trust their local election officials to ensure that eligible voters were able to cast their ballots,” Brinson Bell said.

Absentee Ballot Distribution – 2024 Primary Election

The State Board also unanimously approved a resolution (PDF) to move the absentee ballot distribution date for the March 5, 2024 primary election to Friday, Jan. 19, 2024, or 45 days before Election Day.


State law requires county boards to begin mailing out absentee ballots for a primary election 50 days before Election Day. The State Board has the discretion to move that date to begin distributing absentee ballots to 45 days prior to Election Day, matching the deadline by which states are required to begin distributing absentee ballots to military and overseas citizens under the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).


Under the current schedule, the 50-day deadline falls on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday – Jan. 15. Because the county board offices and post offices are closed that day, this means that the deadline effectively moves three days earlier, to Friday, Jan. 12.


With candidate filing not ending until Dec. 15, the Jan. 19 deadline gives the State Board and county boards of elections more time to ensure that all ballots are generated, proofed, printed, and delivered to their offices for the primary.


County Board Appointments

In other business, the State Board unanimously appointed Elwood MacArthur Dodson Jr., a Democrat, to the Caswell County Board of Elections; and George Cedric Hague, a Republican, to the Pasquotank County Board of Elections.

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