The Adams County Office of Elections and Voter Registration, housed on the first floor of the Adams County Courthouse, is charged with administering elections in the county’s 21 townships and 13 boroughs.
The office is supervised by the elections Board of Directors which is made up of the three county commissioners, the county solicitor, the director of the elections office, two assistant directors, and two clerks.
Because commissioner Marty Qually is currently running for an elected office, the County’s President Judge has replaced him on the board for this year with Vickie Corbett.
Next on the office to-do list is administering the Nov. 8 state election in which residents vote for Governor, Lt. Governor, Senator, and State House and State Senate candidates.
“it’s gotten busier,” said Elections Board Director Angie Crouse. “It’s a very high-profile election and registrations are up. There’s more activity than normal,” she said.
“We are going to do what we always do. We’re going to be very transparent,” said Crouse.
Crouse said the office was working to add more information to the office website and sharing information with the public. “We were invited to [residential development] Amblebrook and we did a Q&A to help people understand,” she said. “Many states do things very differently than we do.”
“We have a lot of people who call us. We help them get through the website,” she said. “This race is hard to tell. We’re going to hit it head on.”
Crouse said the office had begun to prepare for the November election immediately after the May primary.
No-excuse mail-in balloting
Crouse said the office would continue with no-excuse mail-in balloting for this election, as the state has done since 2020. Absentee ballots are also available.
“No-excuse balloting is used by voters in both parties,” said Crouse. “We just want people to vote.”
Applications for mail-in ballots are verified using the Statewide “Help American Vote Act” system in which the voter’s name, birthday, address, and either driver’s license or social security number is validated.
The office prints out mailing labels and envelopes for distribution to those who have requested a mail-in ballot. Each ballot has a label on the outside mailing envelope and an inside secrecy envelope.
Crouse said the process for determining the validity of received mail-in ballots was stringent and secure:
- When the ballot envelope is received by the county it first goes through a machine that dates that ballot and sends and email to the voter to say their ballot had been received.
- Clerks in the office verify that there is only one ballot in each envelope.
- Each ballot is verified by comparing the ballot signature with the original signature on file.
- Received ballots are kept under lock and key until election day.
On election day three teams of three county staff members work together to count the mail-in ballots under the direction of members of the board of elections.
A live video feed of the activities in the office on election day is available to the public.
Crouse said election officers were trained to compare signatures. “People’s signatures do change over time but the way they make certain letters stays the same,” she said.
“We’ve had a couple of signatures for people we have had to call – for instance because they had had a stroke or their arm was broken. But there haven’t been too many we’ve had to question,” she said.
Each ballot is also subjected to a rigorous canvassing procedure, conducted across each of the precincts, that verifies the ballot counts.
Crouse said that instead of mailing in their ballot, people could use the dropbox inside the courthouse. “The dropbox is very secure. The box is monitored the entire time it is available to the public. The Director of Security sits there all day watching the box,” she said.
Crouse said people were only allowed to submit their own ballot at the dropbox. “You have to fill out a form that allows you to turn in someone else’s ballot.”
Crouse noted that the procedures were more stringent at the dropbox than they were at the post office. “At the post office you can mail other people’s ballots,” she said.
On election day in-person polling at each precinct’s election site is overseen by the precinct’s elected Judge of Elections as well as the majority and minority inspectors.
“I don’t have any concerns about the election process,” said Crouse. “We have good, detailed training for the judge of elections. We give courses and refresher courses. We’re there to help them all day. We have very good poll workers.”
Crouse said the elections office had applied for $365,000 in funds from the State Election Integrity Grant Program, to cover eligible election costs. Crouse said State Senate Bill 982 was signed into law July to help counties help with security and personnel needs.
Crouse said there had only been two cases of suspected election fraud since she started at the office in 2018.
“We had a gentleman in his 80s who was grieving the loss of his wife and turned in a ballot for her,” said Crouse. We sent the case to the district attorney who handled it.”
Crouse said that one year the office had found an instance of a person who had voted in person in North Carolina and also via absentee ballot in Adams County. “We check across state lines,” she said. “We turned the person in to the district attorney.”
Crouse said she encouraged everyone to vote and to apply early.