Absentee ballot election workers fill ballot applications in Charlotte, North Carolina. Credit: Logan Cyrus / AFP / Getty

North Carolina, a critical swing state, is seeing rapid changes in election law, placing extra stress on new officials trying to grasp how the system works

The first job many people take out of college usually doesn’t come with a lot of responsibility. Adam Byrnes’s first job is to make sure democracy works in a critical US swing state.

Before graduating with a political science degree from Emory University, Byrnes, 21, applied to be the director of elections for Swain county, a mountainous region of about 14,000 people in western North Carolina. He was offered the job before he had a diploma in hand and started at the end of May. He’s currently preparing for municipal elections in the county seat of Bryson City, which take place in November, while also laying the foundations for the 2024 presidential contest.

Although he’d worked with an on-campus civic engagement organization and an outside group that researched voter access in Georgia, Byrnes quickly learned […]

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