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Hats off to the local election effort— and the thousands who voted

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Amid all the back and forth over who won various elections and whether any races require recounts and litigation, it’s been lost on some people just how smoothly the election — from the beginning of mail-in absentee voting all the way up through election day — went in Haywood County.

While setting the table for success began in Raleigh under the leadership of North Carolina Board of Elections Director Karen Brinson Bell, that leadership has been mirrored at the local level through Haywood County Board of Elections Director Robbie Inman.

Inman — like any good leader — has redirected all praise toward his fellow employees.

Throughout the election, Inman had regular conversations with The Mountaineer reporters about different changes in the way business is conducted. He also providied concise updates on the number of people who voted, whether through a mail-in absentee ballot, early in-person voting or on Election Day.

Although Inman and crew operated under constantly shifting guidance due to extensive litigation over the ballot-counting process, they took every change in stride and kept focused on the task at hand, all with Inman’s hand steady on the wheel.

Board of Elections employees were already putting in long hours before the early voting period began on Oct. 15. But at that point, once the three one-stop polling places opened six days a week from 8 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., things got even tougher.

During The Mountaineer’s interviews with Inman, even when asked if the hours were starting to take a toll on employees, he’d joke about how tired everyone was before more seriously reaffirming his commitment to the job.

As great and hardworking as the employees have been, it’d be wrong to not also mention the board itself. Haywood County Election Board members, who represent a broad set of political views and both major political parties, worked together for dozens of hours with integrity and attention to detail to count the thousands of mail-in absentee ballots Haywood County voters cast.

We’d also be remiss to forget about those who stepped up to serve as precinct officials. Those early voting locations and the 29 Haywood County polling places open on Election Day could have never functioned without the hard work of precinct workers, some of whom turned out for every single day of early voting.

The board of elections will gather Thursday to count the few final votes that arrived by mail after Election Day but are postmarked Nov. 3 or earlier.

What perhaps will be most remembered about the 2020 election are the Haywood residents who shattered previous voter participation numbers.

A total of 36,499 individuals cast a ballot in Haywood, representing a 78.59 voter turnout of the registered voters. That compares to 15,715 who voted in the March primary election, and 30,802 residents who voted in the 2016 November presidential election.

Haywood voters, along with those who conducted the election with commendable reliability and integrity are all to be congratulated for proving democracy is alive and well in 2020!

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