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Elections director: Stop sending multiple mail-in ballot requests
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2020 Election

Elections director: Stop sending multiple mail-in ballot requests

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State and county boards of elections have systems that will alert staffers if a voter tries to cast more than one ballot, said Debbie Mace, director of elections for Burke County.

For those voters who keep sending in multiple mail-in ballot requests, the Burke County Board of Elections has a request.

Stop.

Debbie Mace, director of elections for Burke County, said there are people who have sent in four or five mail-in ballot requests.

“Please, please stop doing that,” she said.

It is causing headaches and extra work for elections staff. So far, the elections office has received around 5,500 mail-in ballot requests, not including the duplicate requests, Mace said. Each request has to be hand-entered into the system.

Only one mail-in request counts, and only one ballot will be mailed to the voter making the request.

Mace didn’t have an exact number of the duplicate requests but she said, “it’s a ton.”

As of Tuesday, the elections office has sent out more than 5,300 mail-in ballots. Mace said the office has already received nearly 1,400 of them back.

Those filling out mail-in ballots also should only use a black ballpoint pen. Voters should not use a Sharpie to mark a ballot, Mace said; doing so will cause “bleeding through” issues with the ballot.

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Voters should follow instructions by the “A” at the top of the ballot.

Lawsuit settlement

As for mistakes on ballots, the State Board of Elections announced changes Tuesday to the absentee voting process to make it easier for a voter to fix problems with an absentee ballot.

The state board said the changes were included in a joint motion asking Wake County Superior Court to approve a settlement with plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the N.C. Alliance for Retired Americans. The lawsuit challenged various absentee voting processes in the state.

In the joint motion filed Tuesday, the parties agreed that the witness requirement for absentee voters will remain in place. A witness must fill out required fields on the ballot's return envelope, including the witness' name, address and signature, the state board said.

The state board said that incomplete witness information is the main problem with absentee ballot envelopes. Previous state board guidance required those voters to cast a new ballot.

The state board will allow a voter whose witness does not fill out required fields on the envelope to correct that mistake through an affidavit.

Under the agreement, the following issues can be resolved by the voter completing and returning an affidavit sent by the county board of elections if:

  • The voter did not sign the voter certification.
  • The voter signed in the wrong place.
  • The witness or assistant did not print his or her name, address or both.
  • The witness or assistant did not sign or signed on the wrong line.

Under the joint motion, the plaintiffs agreed not to continue to pursue additional changes they had sought, including the elimination of the absentee witness requirement, a requirement that boards of elections pay for return postage, and the lifting of prohibitions on who can assist with and deliver absentee request forms.

While the five-member, bipartisan state board agreed unanimously to make the changes, the issue has become political. The two Republican board members resigned Wednesday, and state GOP officials have called the settlement a collusion between Democrats and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The state Democratic Party has said the resignations were a coordinated stunt with the Republican Party and an effort to cast doubt on the outcome of the upcoming election.

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