CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Election offices across the country are struggling to retain workers.
In North Carolina more than half of the state’s county directors have left their positions since 2019. This comes as workers prepare to count local election results Tuesday.
“I still feel like I have something to offer,” Mecklenburg County Board of Elections director Micheal Dickerson said. “I still feel like I am doing a job that is meaningful.”
Dickerson has been the County Board of Elections’ director since 1998. His experience administering the election process is starting to become a rarity across the state.
“I take it one election at a time,” he said.
With a presidential election one year away, the North Carolina Board of Elections (NCSBE) says 26 county directors have no experience leading during a presidential election.
They may have worked on staff. Many have not even worked in the field at all,” NCSBE Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell said.
“Is that a concern, given the fact that this is such an important role?” Queen City News asked Brinson Bell.
“It is very concerning,” she said.
In North Carolina, each of the 100 counties has an election board with its own director. According to NCSBE, 53 directors have either retired or resigned since 2019.
Brinson Bell said the majority left their position following the 2020 presidential election – a time when election workers face constant criticism and conspiracy theories surrounding their job.
“When you face scrutiny that’s unjustified, that is false,” Brinson Bell said. “When your own personal integrity is questioned even when you are in a grocery store, it makes it hard when to reach retirement to say I am going to continue past that when many intended to. And then, others are resigning and sometimes it’s [for] better paying jobs.”
She says the board is relying on a team of field support workers to guide newcomers this upcoming election.
In 2020, the state board had eight field support staff. Due to budget cuts, it’s now six.
“It is something that we are trying to prepare for, but it’s not really a profession where you want to learn trial-by-fire,” Brinson Bells said. “It is a very complex field to be drinking from a fire hose, and that is what’s happening. It puts a lot of burden on the State Board of Elections to ensure that we can support them.”