Over the past week, the political temperature has continued to rise over the rules governing mail-in absentee ballots in North Carolina.
First, on Tuesday, the five-member State Board of Elections (SBE) voted unanimously in favor of changes to the technical rules regarding absentee ballots. The changes make it easier for voters to correct technical errors found in their submitted ballots. The proposed changes are subject to court approval.
The changes came as part of a settlement agreement with groups suing the SBE over the disproportionate number of absentee ballots from Black voters ruled invalid under current rules. Just 16% of returned absentee ballots have come from Black voters, but they make up 43% of ballots invalidated due to a technical error involving incomplete witness information. Making those errors easier to fix could avoid disproportionately disenfranchising Black voters. On Saturday, however, President Trump’s campaign committee and the Republican National Committee sued to block the new rule changes from going into effect.
Both Republican SBE members had joined all three Democratic members in voting for the settlement. Despite that, within days the two Republicans resigned from the board. This weekend, the wife of one of the members who stepped down posted on Facebook that her husband was pressured to resign by the state Republican Party, which opposes every voter having a chance to make their vote count. GOP spokespeople openly admitted to reporters this was accurate.
Whether the proposed changes pass judicial scrutiny or not, one way to be certain your ballot will count is to avoid errors in the completion process. The most common error is a lack of a witness signature, name, or address on the outer envelope, all of which are required by state law.
The SBE has an online request form to get an absentee ballot sent to you. Then once you have submitted your completed ballot, there is another tool to track whether it has been received and accepted. It is safe and easy to vote from home. Make your vote count!