Agreement reached on fixing absentee ballots with errors

Image: NC State Board of Elections

After a great deal of litigation and public debate, it appears that we now know what the deal will be for absentee ballots that contain errors on the envelopes in which they’re returned.

As reports:

The State Board of Elections will go back to its old way of dealing with absentee ballots mailed in without a witness signature: The voter will have to fill out a new ballot and get a signature for his or her vote to count.

The decision came over the weekend, and Attorney General Josh Stein’s office informed one of the two courts overseeing various lawsuits filed over the procedure, and a handful of others, that the policy shift would take effect Monday.

And this is from Raleigh’s News & Observer:

Voters whose absentee ballots have problems with their envelopes can now expect contact from board of elections offices in order to fix their ballots by Election Day.

And less than 24 hours after North Carolina added new guidelines on handling those problems, the N.C. Court of Appeals ruled that ballots could be collected through Nov. 12 if they were postmarked by 5 p.m. Nov. 3, Election Day.

The deadline extension approval is still pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals.

WRAL also reports that:
Other problems can be fixed by just having the voter fill out an affidavit/certification. Those include if the voter didn’t initially sign the ballot’s voter certification, if he or she signed in the wrong place, if the witness signed but failed to print his or her name as well, or if the witness did not print his or her address on the ballot envelope.
Unfortunately, a fix sought by voting rights advocates that would have allowed people to swear via affidavit that they are who they say they are if there is a problem with a witness signature — a safety provision that all five members of the Board of Elections agreed to earlier this year — is not a part of the final agreement. That said, there appears to be grounds for optimism that virtually all of the several thousand North Carolinians with absentee ballot errors will get a chance to have their votes counted.
This continues to be a developing story.

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