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Voter registration officials reflect on recent elections, future meetings

With a general election that included the presidential race, voter challenges and the Senate runoffs, it’s been a busy year for employees, board members and volunteers with Forsyth County’s Department of Voter Registrations and Elections, and at a recent meeting, board members started discussing some of the lessons learned over the election cycle.

On Tuesday, Jan. 12, a meeting of the Forsyth County Board of Voter Registrations and Elections was held at the department’s office, where members discussed voter turnout, how public comments would be held at future meetings and election certification. 

“We all know that Forsyth County is a voting county,” said chief registrar and chairwoman Barbara Luth. “They do go out and vote. They don’t just pay lip service to register then not go out to vote. That’s why we have such high numbers for runoffs and general elections.”

When recapping the election, Luth noted that, technically, the election would not be over until it was certified.

Board member Joel Natt said that between November and January, the county’s voter rolls grew by nearly 3,000 and the largest jump came from the Heardsville precinct. 

Natt said with 129,945 voters cast ballots in November, up from 98,964 in 2016.

About 79% of the county’s registered voters cast ballots in November, which Natt said was a good turnout but below the county’s record of 84.7% of the county’s registered voter voting in the election, though the county only had 67,000 registered voters at the time.

For the efforts to help the elections run smoothly, members also expressed thanks throughout the meeting for law enforcement, the fire department, volunteers, including student volunteers, and county commissioners. 

Board members also discussed how to handle public comments during future meetings after a pair of special-called meeting in December where voter challenges and extending hours for casting ballots were on the agendas, but many of the public comments dealt with other election issues.

“The objective is not to have another meeting like we had when 122 people showed up addressing grievances,” said board member Randy Ingram. “Basically, we lost control of the meeting, and that’s what I want to avoid. That was uncalled for and unnecessary, so the objective of anything, I would say, would be to give the public an opportunity to express opinions that are grounded in fact and avoid some of the controversy we had in that meeting.”

Members favored having those who want to speak sign in and only have a certain amount of time for each speaker to give their comments.