Board of elections certifies Watauga County votes

Abi Pepin, Reporter

One day after the mail-in ballot acceptance deadline, Watauga County’s Board of Elections members certified the election results for Boone, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk and Seven Devils Nov. 13.

Certifying the election means the winners of every race are official. 

“This was a multi-faceted effort from a lot of different people to make this happen,” said Matt Snyder, Watauga County director of elections. “I think the most important thing to focus on is that we carried off the biggest voter turnout ever in Watauga County.”

Watauga County had a 71.62% voter turnout with 32,346 total votes cast. The 2016 election had a 65.33% turnout with 30,241 total votes. 

“Hats off to the board (of elections) for your unbelievable number of meetings you had and the huge number of absentee ballots to process,” Snyder said.

Snyder said although it was his biggest concern, the county did not have any COVID-19 outbreaks among election officials, workers or other staff.

Eric Eller, a BOE member, said he was amazed at the way everybody came together for a smooth election process. 

“(Snyder) pulled this together with people that are new, but ultimately that bounces back to show the quality of leadership,” Eller said.

Eller and fellow BOE member Nancy Owen chose not to sign to certify this year’s elections due to the acceptance of mail-in ballots.

A ruling allowed ballots to be accepted if they were postmarked by Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. and arrived at the county board of elections by 5 p.m. Nov. 12.

Eller said they had talked about this issue and they “take it seriously.”

“Ms. Owen and myself voted against certification because we believe
there were ballots which were accepted and approved in violation of
the law of North Carolina and the Constitution of the United States,” Eller wrote in an email after the meeting.

The motion to approve the results passed with three in favor and two against.