Drew Reisinger has served as your Register of Deeds since 2011, during which time Buncombe County has experienced a historic increase in the number of marriage licences issued and an upsurge in real estate transactions. Drew’s effective leadership and use of innovative technology has helped meet these demands while increasing convenience for the public and the professionals who frequent his office and use its website. Drew has also been a statewide leader in increasing transparency, advocating for secure record keeping, and making the office of the Register of Deeds more accessible to all people.
Drew was awarded the Evan Mahaney Champion of Civil Liberties Award by the ACLU for his leadership during the marriage equality movement. Drew was proud to issue the first same-sex marriage licenses in the state of NC on October 10, 2014.
Drew has been recognized by the National Archives, the Society of State Archivists, and the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County for his groundbreaking Slave Deeds project. Under Drew’s leadership, Buncombe was the first county in the nation to digitize all historic slave deeds. In partnership with the State Archivist and UNC Greensboro, a grant was recently awarded from the National Archives to create a state-wide database of records of slavery. Upon completion of this project, a framework will be in place to make this the national model so that other states can follow suit.
Ending Child Marriage
Together with the International Center for Research on Women, Drew is working to end child marriage in the state of North Carolina. Currently, 14 year olds are still legally allowed to get married in the state. Research shows that girls who get married under the age of 18 are at risk for adverse life events including domestic violence and reduced life expectancy. Drew is working to compile data from across the state to present to legislators so they can pass a law to end this practice.
In 2018, Governor Roy Cooper appointed Drew to the North Carolina State Historical Records Advisory Board. This is the State's central advisory board responsible for historical records planning with the State Archives and the National Archives. On this board, Drew continues to advocate for improved digital access to North Carolina's most important records. Citizens in the mountains and on the coast should be able to easily access North Carolina's historical records, without having to drive to Raleigh.
In collaboration with the Opioid Response Coordinator, Drew is working to gather more accurate information regarding the individuals who have died due to this crisis. Streamlining opioid-related death data will help first responders and addiction specialists be better able to anticipate and prevent deaths, while providing support to those in need.
Civil Marriage Laws
The North Carolina marriage laws are outdated and in need of an overhaul. Drew advocates for broadening access to civil marriage ceremonies in North Carolina. Currently, State law allows two types of marriage ceremonies: religious and civil. In a civil ceremony, NC statutes narrowly define that only magistrate judges can perform civil ceremonies. Because magistrate judges have many other duties, they only have time to perform weddings in the courthouse a couple of times per weekday in Buncombe County. Many couples opt for an officiant who obtains their title online. However, recent court cases have challenged the legitimacy of marriages performed by some online officiants.
A 2009 survey of American marriages revealed that 41% of marriage ceremonies were held in religious institutions. In 2017, that number dropped to only 22% of couples choosing to have their ceremony at a religious venue. This leaves most couples in limbo trying to navigate the murky laws surrounding online officiants and creates a barrier for couples who have to meet with a magistrate at a time that fits the magistrate’s schedule.
Drew will continue to push legislators to more broadly define who can perform these civil ceremonies, including but not limited to all civil officials who have taken the oath of office, including Notaries Public. Another reasonable option would be to create a new civil title known in other states as a "Justice of the Peace," whose sole duty would be to officiate at a civil marriage ceremony.
Couples shouldn't have to question the legitimacy of their marriage because they wanted to take their vows in front of their friends and family, outside of courthouse hours, or outside of a religious institution. Drew will continue to work with the ACLU to protect freedom of religion and bring North Carolina marriage laws into the 21st century.
As a member of the Legislative Committee of the NC Association of Registers of Deeds, Drew helped push legislation through the General Assembly to stop a fraudulent scam impacting elderly residents of Buncombe County who were being sent fake bills by a fraudulent company. Drew notified NC Attorney General Josh Stein to end this practice at a statewide level. In addition, Drew has worked with local real estate attorneys and media to notify and protect residents from this scam.
Drew is running for re-election in 2020 because he loves serving the people of Buncombe County as the steward of our vital public records. Drew will continue to deliver the service and stewardship that residents deserve and have come to expect from the Register of Deeds office.