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Voters can soon request mail-in ballot online
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2020 Election

Voters can soon request mail-in ballot online

Mail-in ballot requests to be available online

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The Burke County Board of Elections is at the Foothills Higher Education Center in Morganton. To request a mail-in ballot or for information, call 828-764-9010. 

With the general election nearing, local elections officials have changed the location of one of the county’s voting precincts.

And while President Donald Trump has cast doubt about the safety and security of mail-in voting, it appears that the N.C. Republican Party is encouraging it.

The Burke County Board of Elections recently approved a resolution that moves the Quaker Meadows 1-A precinct from the Oak Hill Ruritan Club building to the Qak Hill United Methodist Church multi-purpose activity center, located at 2239 N.C. 181, Morganton. The board said the move is permanent.

Debbie Mace, director of elections for Burke County, said she was notified that the Ruritan building has permanently closed.

Mace said last week that letters were ready to go out to voters in the precinct about the move, and she has notified the political party chairs in the county.

The board is expected to receive the ballots for the Nov. 3 general election by Sept. 4, and requests for mail-in ballots will start going out by the mid-September, Mace said.

As of Tuesday, nearly 300,000 absentee ballot requests have been received by county boards of elections statewide, according to the N.C. Board of Elections. By the same day, the Burke County Board of Elections has received nearly 1,800 absentee-by-mail ballot requests, Mace said.

“And they just keep pouring in,” she said.

People also are calling the office for a form to request a mail-in ballot, she said.

The N.C. Board of Elections is expected to launch an online absentee ballot request portal by Sept. 1. Through the portal, voters will be able to request a ballot completely online, with no need to print or mail a request form.

The 1,800 requests so far in Burke County already has surpassed the about 1,100 requests for mail-in ballots received for the 2016 presidential election.

Pandemic's effect

More people are requesting mail-in ballots throughout the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state Republican Party also is mailing request forms to voters in North Carolina, including Burke County. The forms have Trump’s photo on it and say: “Are you going to let the Democrats silence you? Act now to stand with President Trump.” They encourage voters to request a mail-in ballot and give directions about how to use the request form.

Mace said that form is fine for voters to request a mail-in ballot.

Some forms that have been mailed to voters, such as the more than 400 that the Center for Voter Information mailed earlier this year to voters in Burke were not valid. The forms were not the right size, and some of the information on them had already been filled out, Mace said earlier. None of the information on the request form can be pre-filled before going to voters, election officials have said.

The Center for Voter Information says the issue with its request forms have been corrected, and it has sent out blank absentee-ballot request forms to 80,000 voters in North Carolina. 

Mace said 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, is the deadline to request an absentee mail-in ballot. Ballots can be dropped off by the voter or a close relative or mailed in. Ballots have to be received or postmarked by 5 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 3.

The voter registration cutoff is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9. However, people can still register and vote during early with a photo ID and proof of residence. The early voting period for the election is Oct. 15 through Oct. 31.

Voters will not need a photo ID to vote in the general election this year.

To request a mail-in ballot or for more information, call the Burke County Board of Elections at 828-764-9010.

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