2020 Elections Wrap Up

2020 Elections Wrap Up: Four Elections were held in Northampton County
Posted on 12/16/2020

2020 was a busy year for the Voter Registration office and for Voters. 

Just before the pandemic put the world into lockdown Northampton County held the March 3, 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary. Absentee voting for this race began in late January.  

Then came COVID-19 and we had to adapt to mask mandates and social distancing so a plan was devised to hold absentee voting in the Town Parks for the May Town Elections for Cape Charles and Exmore. Until March 30, 2020, when Governor Northam enacted Stay At Home orders and the parks shut down too. With all the uncertainty and fear of the virus spreading, voters were encouraged to vote by mail.  The months unfolded with much voter unrest and confusion but the Northampton County Voter Registration office met the challenges with professionalism and timely information to keep things on a steady keel. All in all the Voters of Northampton County and Election Officers did a great job adapting to many of the challenges this past year.  Northampton County votes well!

Below is a summary of the 2020 election year for Northampton County taken from  snippets of the Voter Registrar's monthly department reports collected here for posterity. 


JANUARY/ FEBRUARY SUMMARY 

The office continued to prepare for the March 3, Democratic Presidential Primary. The office was open for absentee voting Monday through Friday. The Board and Voter Registration staff completed Officer training, Logic and Accuracy testing for all voting machines, site inspections, and displaying the ballot throughout the County.  

The office was open the last Saturday of February for absentee voting.


MARCH SUMMARY

Cape Charles Gazebo set for voting in the park

The Electoral Board and office executed the March 3, Democratic Presidential Primary. One thousand, eight hundred and ten, or 19.7% of Northampton voters turned out to cast a ballot.

The office began preparations for the May 5, Town Elections. When the County Administration Building was closed to the public, the registrar relocated in-person absentee to the town parks of Cape Charles and Exmore until they were closed due to the Governor’s “stay at home” order. Operations then shifted to encouraging as many voters as possible to vote by mail. 

The Registrar received the order calling for a June 9, Republican Primary for US Congress and Senate. Senate of Virginia. The election date has since been changed by the governor to June 23. The office also began preparations for this election.

Photos:
March 23, 2020:
The Cape Charles Gazebo in Central Park is setExmore Town Park in March 2020 set up for voting. up for voting because the County Administration building was closed to the public via the Governor's Executive order at the start of the pandemic.  

March 24, 2020: Exmore Town Park is used as a voting precinct during the pandemic. Then came the Stay at Home order on March 30, 2020. Parks were closed along with everything else. Voters were encouraged to vote by mail. 


APRIL SUMMARY

April was something of a roller coaster ride for our office, and for many voter registration offices across the state who also had an impending May Town Election. As the Governor rolled out stay at home executive orders, there was much uncertainty over how we would hold an election, and when we might hold it. Governor Northam requested the election be postponed until November, but we would have to wait two weeks to see if the General Assembly agreed. In the meantime, our office began efforts to encourage voters to vote by mail hoping to reduce the number of in-person voters on Election Day, so we mailed out an absentee application to every qualified voter in the towns of Exmore and Cape Charles. On Wednesday, April 22nd, the GA basically made no decision, so the election was on for May 5th. Then on Friday, the Governor moved the election two weeks, so we will now have it on May 19. The Electoral Board and staff have created a new voting procedure that only allows one voter in the precinct at a time in order to practice effective social distancing. 

A look into the sign of the times. This was information posted through our website in April and May of 2020. 

April 27, 2020

Update on May Town Elections in Cape Charles and Exmore


In accordance with Governor Northam’s Executive Order Number 59, the May Town Elections for Cape Charles and Exmore have been moved to Tuesday, May 19, 2020. The deadline to request an absentee ballot has been moved to May 12, and the ballot has to be returned by 7 pm on Election Night, May 19. If you have a valid Virginia Driver’s license, you can request a ballot on-line from The Department of Elections at https://www.elections.virginia.gov/casting-a-ballot/absentee-voting/. You can also call our office (678-0480) and request a ballot or request by fax (678-0453). If you have a ballot and were waiting to see if the election would be held, please vote and return your ballot at your earliest convenience. 



WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE POLLING PLACE FOR THE JUNE 23RD REPUBLICAN PRIMARY

Voters in the June 23rd Republican Primary will see a different polling place configuration when they go to vote next Tuesday. For the safety of our voters and workers, we will allow only one voter in the polling place at a time. All other voters will wait outside and practice social distancing. The precinct will be sanitized between each voter, and the next voter will be called in. This may create lines and an extended waiting period, so give yourself plenty of time to vote, and please be patient with our Officers of Election. Some polling places will have volunteers from the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps to help with COViD 19 protocol and sanitization.
Masks will be required inside the polling place. If you do not have a mask on you will be asked to vote outside. As usual we will be offering curbside voting for those voters with mobility issues or who otherwise need assistance. If you need assistance inside the polls, our officers will be happy to help; you do not need to bring someone in to help.

The Voter Registration Office will be open for in-person absentee voting Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, 9-5. Friday has been recognized as a state holiday by the governor celebrating Juneteenth.

• Hand sanitizer will be available, but please make sure your hands are dry when handling the ballot.
• You will need a photo ID to check in.
• Every voter will get their own pen and folder to keep as souvenirs.
• Please be patient with our Officers. This is new to many of them as well.
• Again, you may encounter lines, please plan accordingly.
If you have any questions, please call us. 678-0480


MAY SUMMARY 

The Electoral Board and the Voter Registration staff conducted the May 19, 2020, Town Elections for Cape Charles and Exmore. Voting in the polling places was very different with a “one person at a time” approach. Even still turnout was consistent, or better, than the previous town elections.

Officers of election being sworn in at the Cape Charles May Town Elelctions. In Cape Charles, 65 out of 345 voters showed up in person to elect Andrew Buchholz, Steven Bennett, and Andrew Follmer to Town Council.

In Exmore, 15 out of 91 voters showed up in person, May Town Elections in Exmore. better than 2018’s turnout of 60 total voters, to re-elect Thomas Lewis, John Metz, and Chase Sturgis. 

The office prepared for the June 23, 2020, Republican Primary. For this election we sent a postcard to every voter encouraging them to vote by mail to reduce turnout at the polls on Election Day, much like we did for the May Town Elections. The responses requesting applications for mailed ballots has been very good, and we may see a better turnout for this election, than we did in years past as well.


JUNE SUMMARY 

 

The Electoral Board and the Voter Registration staff conducted the June 23, 2020, Republican Primary. We still restricted the polling place to one voter at a time, even though turnout was higher than in May. 679 voters turned out at the polls, and 229 voters voted absentee for a total of 908 voters. The electoral Board completed the canvass and sent abstracts to ELECT, The County Administrator, The Clerk of the Court, and the Republican Chairman of the Second Congressional District. 

The office was open for absentee voting on Saturday, June 20. 

During the spring and summer,  the Northampton County General Registrar, Terry Flynn, took some of his vacation hours to help deliver food for Shore Delivery Corps,Terry Flynn gets ready to deliver food for Shore Delivery Corps. a community group that formed to help get groceries and medicine to those who were at highest risk for the virus. 

 


JULY SUMMARY 

• The Voter Registration Office continued to clean up form the June 23 primary as well as prepare for the upcoming November Presidential. Voting equipment was cleaned, serviced and stored. Precinct supplies were re-organized, re-ordered and stored.

• The office worked with the Board to create another postcard mailing for the November Election encouraging mail in absentee voting.

• The registrar applied for a $50,764 grant through the Department of Elections CARES award. Special thanks to Charles Kolakowski and John Chandler for their help with securing the award.  


AUGUST SUMMARY

The Voter Registration Office continued to prepare for the November 3, Presidential Election. An informational postcard was sent to all voters. An in person absentee voting station was set up in the office to handle what looks to be a considerable number of early voters. We have ordered and installed 2 laptops at the station and other office equipment. 

Absentee Voting Stations set up in the Voter Registration office. Line Starts Here

We have hired three new temporary fulltime employees to help with the increased workload. Jackie Smith will help Liz with the absentee mailings.  Tamara Brown and Patience Brown will be the two in person absentee Tamara Brown and Patience Brown work in the absentee voting check in at the Registrar's office. assistants and will help check in voters and help them vote.

Many thanks to several departments for making this work: IT for helping set up the new internet node; Chris Thomas and Bob Irwin for all the help wiring the station; and Finance and HR helping with the budgeting and hiring of new employees. 


VOTE: A poster from the League of Women Voters circa 1920.August also marked the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment which guarantee's women's right to vote. Read more about the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment and Women's Suffrage







SEPTEMBER SUMMARY 

A line forms on the morning of In Person Absentee Voting begins September 18, 2020• Things have been very busy in our office. On September 18th, we opened for in person absentee voting. We had 150 voters that day, and things have been busy ever since, averaging about 86 voters a day. At the end of September, we had almost 900 voters through the door. Before the 18th, our office sent out over 1,000 mailed ballots to voters who requested one.


Registrar appeared a guest on Franco’s radio show and also on an episode of Shore Talk. He gave out general voting information and answered questions.

From our Facebook page @northamptoncountyva 
September 18, 2020

Ms. Jordan entering the office to vote.
Northampton County Votes! Early In-Person Absentee voting is underway as of 9 AM this morning, Friday September 18, 2020. A line formed outside the Voter Registrar's office at 8 AM. 69 voters have cast a ballot before noon and still more are lining up. The first person to vote in Northampton County for the 2020 Presidential Election was Ms. Ellen Jordan who is 102 years young! In Person Absentee Voting runs until October 31st. And of course, you can always come to the polls on November 3, 2020. 







OCTOBER SUMMARY 

Training for Election Workers 10-15-20

Held over 14 training sessions for officers. 2 general "All-Call" trainings. 10 Individual trainings for the teams operating precinct voting equipment; a chiefs training and a CAP training.


Flynn at the whiteboard teaching civics at Broadwater AcademyRegistrar spoke to the Broadwater AP history classes. 

Photo October 9, 2020: The Northampton County General Registrar, Terry Flynn is also a civics educator! He is right in his element in the classroom having taught at Northampton High School for 13 years prior to becoming the Director of Elections for Northampton County. Please, do your civic duty and VOTE!  

Broadwater Academy added this in their post: "Earlier this week, Terry Flynn, General Registrar for Northampton County, made his annual visit to Broadwater to inform seniors about the Election Day Page Program and administer the Election Page Oath. Broadwater seniors have been participating in this program since 2013. Thank you Mr. Flynn for your collaboration in promoting civic engagement!"


Registrar spoke to the Northampton Democratic Party via Zoom.

Office was open for In Person Early Absentee Voting Vote Here sign outside of the County Admin Building
Office was open Sat. Oct 24 and 31 for voters' convenience. 


 From our Facebook Page @northamptoncountyva
October 14, 2020

TODAY IN VOTER NEWS:
Yesterday a cable was accidentally cut in Chester, VA causing an internet outage for most of the day to critical Virginia Commonwealth agencies including Voter Registration. Yesterday was also the last day to register to vote ahead of the Nov 3rd election. But in Northampton County, no disruptions were reported because we have learned from history. Northampton County has the Oldest Continuous Court records because during the Civil War, when Richmond asked for Counties to send their records to them for safe keeping, Northampton County refused. Richmond burned and along with it the records from the counties who sent them there for safekeeping.

A few years ago, our Northampton County General Registrar, Terry Flynn used this history lesson to head off any future trouble. There was a trend among localities to convert paper voter registration records to digital records and then send the files to the state for safe keeping. When asked to give up the paper files for more digital convenience, Mr. Flynn refused telling his colleagues the story of our oldest continuous court records, which they thought was very quaint. He asked his colleagues around the state what would happen if somehow the internet went down and the records were inaccessible.

Northampton County uses a hybrid system of digital records backed up with the original paper records. So yesterday, when the internet went down and other localities were unable to access their records, Northampton County kept right on working- the old fashioned way, paper poll books and paper files. When voters called to check their registration status, staff went to the file cabinet and pulled the voter's original registration card. Voters, you are in capable hands here in Northampton County! 
Terry Flynn sanitizes a voting cubby for the next voter.


NOVEMBER SUMMARY 

The Electoral Board and the Voter Registration staff would like to thank all who helped make this election a success in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Election workers
Election workers for District 4
Officers of election Nassawadox

Officers of election

The office and Electoral Board executed the November 3, 2020, Presidential Election. This was the third election we conducted under COVID-19 restrictions this year. This election was also the first ever to have 45 days of early voting, and 3088 voters came through our door between Sept. 18 and Oct 31. We hired three part time absentee assistants who did a great job making it a convenient and enjoyable voting experience.

The cost of this election was much higher than past elections, at 32,996 due to factors such as a statewide mandate to order 115% of ballots, COVID-19 safety expenses, lots of mailing expenses and deputies at the polling places on Election Day. Almost all of the expenses for this election were covered by a $50,000 CARES grant received by the registrar from ELECT. The grant also covered 3 laptops, a copy machine, and other office equipment to set up the early voting station, which will now be available for future elections. The election had a 72% voter turnout, and a cost per voter of $4.38. 

 

A line forms in Cape Charles on the morning of the Nov 3 Election The polls open Nov 3, 2020 in Cape Charles.

Voters line up in Cheriton Social distancing in line to vote on Nov 3, 2020

Voter line up at the polls in Northampton County on the morning of November 3, 2020.

• The Electoral Board canvassed the results of the November 3, 2020, Presidential Election, certified the results and delivered the Abstracts of Election to ELECT, the County Administrator, the Clerk of the Court, and the Towns of Cheriton, Eastville and Nassawadox. 

The Doughty's working the polls.  Photo: Couples and families signed up to work the polls for the November 3rd Presidential Election. Over 45 people volunteered to help because that's what Northampton County is all about, neighbors helping neighbors! In this photo, Buck Doughty and son, Morgan Doughty work the polls in Nassawadox while sister and aunt, Deputy Jennifer Baylis is making sure everyone behaves. 

• The registrar and assistant registrar have been cleaning up from the election, updating voter records and storing equipment.

• Maintained, updated and curated voter registration and electoral records.


From the Northampton County, VA YouTube page. November  10, 2020:

What do you do when you have a tie for Eastville Town Council? In Virginia, we pull the winner out of a hat! Another historic happening this morning in the 1731 Courthouse in Northampton County where the Declaration of Independence was read. Doug Coburn and Allen Philpot agreed to settle the matter the historic way. Mayor James Sturgis held the tri-corner hat while Electoral Board Chair, JoAnn Clark pulled the winning name. Doug Coburn was the winner and will join the Eastville Town Council.


And that's a wrap! Just remember your vote counts! Vote well and vote often. And if you have any concerns about the integrity of the vote, remember it's our neighbors and friends who are working the polling places and helping to make your voting experience an enjoyable one. Your vote is in good hands here in Northampton County, Virginia!