NC 811’s Election Week Awareness Campaign: Digging Safely Near Polling Stations

One thing excavators in North Carolina may not think of before
breaking ground is disturbing the election process, but one wrong
move while digging could take out communication lines or power to local polling stations. This has been a year with unprecedented attention placed on the election, the candidates and the process. North Carolina was considered a “swing state,” all the more reason why avoiding election disruption was important.

NC 811 asked all of its stakeholders to volunteer during election week
by visiting excavation sites across North Carolina that were within 1,000 feet of polling stations. NC 811 collected volunteers during the month of October by direct email and handing out campaign materials at North Carolina Utility Coordinating Committee meetings across the state. A webpage on nc811.org and a new button on the NC 811 app was created to make it easy to sign up as a volunteer along with downloading talking points and campaign materials to hand out to excavators.

Once all volunteers had signed up by October 30th, locate ticket information was pulled for excavation being done near polling stations across the state. That information was then broken down by county and emailed out to our volunteers so they could visit those sites from November 1st to the 8th. After their onsite visits were complete, volunteers and NC 811 staff that took part in the campaign were asked to send in feedback regarding their visits. Information collected included how many people they spoke to, the time, date and the ticket number. Volunteers also found it helpful to start at a polling center and work their way out to job sites using the Near Ticket section of the NC 811 app. The app shows live locate request information around your current location via the GPS data on your phone.

The campaign resulted in more than 77 sites in 19 counties being personally visited, and more than 1,200 additional individuals were directly emailed about best practices around the polling sites. The idea for an election week 811 awareness campaign was brought to NC 811’s attention by Andy Brooks of Dominion NC Power. He was originally involved with Virginia 811 on such a campaign back
in 2012. This was the first time NC 811 conducted the election week awareness campaign and based on its success, we plan on doing it again in years to come.

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