RANDOLPH COUNTY — A year that saw more votes cast in a presidential election than ever before was met with the same enthusiasm by Randolph County voters, who made history.

According to Randolph County Elections Director Melissa Johnson, the 73,489 ballots cast countywide represented a greater percentage of voters — 77.43% — than any other election. It made for a busy, yet rewarding, experience for many of those who helped make it possible.

“As far as I know, it’s the [largest],” Johnson said. “I don’t have records all the way back, but I can’t imagine this isn’t the record.”

When asked what being partially responsible for overseeing the largest turnout ever recorded, the elections director said she experienced a full range of feelings. Those who she compensated for their efforts in protecting America’s foundational right to vote also had a series of variable outcomes over the span of a month.

“I would say it was exciting and exhausting,” Johnson said. “The whole staff and I, the poll workers also, all worked some really long hours and some really unusual situations with the pandemic and other things. But at the same time, a presidential [election] is always exciting and being a part of election history is exciting, as well.”

Though the pace slowed some on Election Day, a steady procession of voters still added to the record numbers of early and absentee ballots collected prior to Election Day. In a year when the COVID-19 pandemic raised considerable health questions for many at-risk voters, a large contingent of residents cast mail-in ballots this year, transforming the political process. More than 4.5 million North Carolinians had already either cast an early vote or mailed in a ballot in the 2020 election prior to Election Day.

As a result, Election Day was not met with the consistent fanfare at the polls as is customary. Poll workers said traffic was heaviest early in the morning on Election Day around the time the polls opened.

A steady number of voters made their way in and out throughout the rest of the day, but lines were reportedly not an inhibiting factor for voters at the county’s polling sites. Much of the heavy lifting had already been done.

Meanwhile, the close of polls was delayed for over an hour. Further delays in counting ballots obscured the results of the Senate race, leaving some question of whether U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis would in fact retain his seat.

Ballots received up to Nov. 12 were accepted as long as they are postmarked on or before Election Day.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.