The discussion this morning at the Catawba County Board of Elections entailed the Ward Specific Voting Referendum issue. Discussion details included setting the date and the language of the referendum along with time frames.
This will be a paper ballot, but the election will be counted electronically and the system must be programmed. The 45 day public notice does not have to include the specific ballot language, but can ( and most likely will) include proposed language. The State must approve the ballot design and its language. The State will look to ensure that the language is not negative towards either side.
The Council will have to adopt a resolution and submit it to the Board of Elections. The Board of Elections will inform the State that the City has adopted the resolution. Once the ballot has been created, then it is submitted to the State for approval.
Absentee ballots will be sent out 30 days before the election and the early voting process begins the third Thursday before the official election date. The Board of Elections desires that the election take place well before the deadline date in October. Walter Witherspoon interjected that the CEG requests input in the process including the wording of the ballot. As far as any confusing language David Hood stated that he doesn't expect that from the City. The CoEs role is to see that the statute has been followed. If there is a judgment call to make, it isn't theirs to make. They can express their opinion, but that is as far as they can go. The language should be kept as simple as possible to limit confusion.
The City Council may have to call special meetings to address this issue. They must give 48 hours notice before holding such a meeting and that will be posted in the paper and on the City's website. City Staff Attorney Arnita Dula stated that she has not been informed whether this issue will be on the July 17, 2012 agenda.
North Carolina General Statute
§ 160A‑105. Submission of propositions to voters; form of ballot.
A proposition to approve an ordinance or petition shall be printed on the ballot in substantially the following form:
"Shall the ordinance (describe the effect of the ordinance) be approved?
( ) YES
( ) NO"
The ballot shall be separate from all other ballots used at the election.
If a majority of the votes cast on a proposition shall be in the affirmative, the plan contained therein shall be put into effect as provided in this Article. If a majority of the votes cast shall be against the proposition, the ordinance or petition proposing the amendments shall be void and of no effect. (1969, c. 629, s. 2; 1971, c. 698, s. 1.)