Brunswick County elections official challenges late mother’s vote

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Counting and verifying ballots are a part of Sara Knotts’ job as Brunswick County’s Board of Elections director.

It’s a job that requires honesty and integrity all the time, Knotts proving just that this election cycle.

“I submitted the paperwork as a near relative to have her record removed so that it would pop up on the report and we could take those steps to make sure that I could remove her vote from the total,” Knotts said.

Knotts’ mom Anne Ashcraft fought a battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.

Ashcraft was bedridden, so Knotts requested an absentee ballot for her and her father who was taking care of her.

“I was completely comfortable giving her the opportunity to cast her ballot because it meant something to her, it was important to her,” Knotts said. “Even though I knew, in the back of my mind, that I might end up doing something like bring a challenge to remove that ballot.”

Ashcraft’s ballot was counted in September and she died on October 11.

In North Carolina, election law says eligibility to vote is determined on election day. So if someone votes early and dies before election day, they are ineligible to vote.

Knotts says it was the most difficult thing she’s had to do as an election administrator, but she knows she would have made her mom proud.

“I think she would’ve been like ‘yeah this is hard, but you have to do what you’re doing because it matters,'” Knotts said. “Even though it’s just one vote, it does matter.”

Hoping to shed light on the work she and so many others are doing across the country, Knotts shared her story on Twitter.

“You know, if I could put something out into the world that might change the rhetoric a little bit,” Knotts said. “There is some integrity in the election process and we need to trust what the officials are doing, then yeah let’s do it.”

Above all, in the midst of the chaos, Knotts says to make time.

“You don’t always know that you’ve got limited time. So making sure that you’re spending the time with your loved ones and telling them that you love them,” she said. “I think that’s really important.”

North Carolina State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell shared a statement on the situation.

“Sara’s situation tugged at all of our heartstrings in the elections community. She did the right thing under the circumstances. She selflessly put the fair and impartial administration of the election ahead of everything else, despite how painful it must have been personally. Sara and hundreds of other elections workers across North Carolina have sacrificed greatly over the past year to make this election a success. We hope Sara’s story helps the public understand the passion, dedication and sacrifice it took to ensure more than 5.5 million voters could cast their ballot safely and securely during a global pandemic.”


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