Over the last four years, at least 40 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have had to replace their election directors due to retirements, resignations and other career moves. Patrick Gannon, a spokesperson for the state Board of Elections, said that’s a significantly greater level of turnover than the state has seen before.
Similar trends hold true across the rest of the United States. A Boston Globe analysis of data from the US Vote Foundation found that county election official turnover had spiked after the 2020 election in battleground states like Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia. According to a 2022 survey by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, 20% of officials serving at the time said they planned to leave their posts before the 2024 presidential contest.
Those filling the vacancies are entering a high-pressure environment, especially in North Carolina, where Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden by fewer than 75,000 votes. Over 25% of the state’s county election directors have personally experienced threats, according to a March poll by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Election Data and Science Lab, and 85% say their work-related stress has grown since 2019.
Update: Pat Gannon of the NC State Board of Elections writes to say: “[W]e are now up to exactly 50 of NC’s 100 counties have (or are currently seeking) new election directors since 2019. More than 30 directors will be working their first presidential election in 2024.”