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Election
Follow the latest news and information about voting and the 2020 election, including essential information about how to vote during a pandemic and more.

NC Begins Processing Tens Of Thousands Of Absentee Ballots

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Steve Harrison
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WFAE
Mecklenburg elections director Michael Dickerson (standing) brings out the first of 44 bins of mail ballots Tuesday night.

Mecklenburg’s Board of Elections began a daunting task Tuesday evening: processing stacks of absentee ballots.

County Director of Elections Michael Dickerson brought out 44 bins containing nearly 35,000 ballots. He already had a bi-partisan team to review the envelopes to make sure they were filled out properly, with things like the voter’s signature and a witness signature.

But the five-person elections board also spot-checked ballots before they were run through a counting machine. The results are placed on a thumb drive and won’t be tallied until Election Day.

The elections board will meet at least four more times to process absentee ballots.

“We’re already higher in the first meeting than we were for the entire November (2016) general election,” Dickerson said.

In that election, there were 26,000 mail ballots in Mecklenburg County.

In Catawba County, the elections board approved more than 3,200 mail ballots Tuesday morning, said county elections director Amanda Duncan.

“This election is just out of the ordinary,” she said. “The previous elections we have never mailed out this many ballots. In 2016, I think we mailed out the most, close to 5,000, so we have already surpassed that.” 

The processing of mail-in ballots comes as Republicans and Democrats are fighting over how ballots with problems should be resolved.

State elections director Karen Brinson Bell emailed county directors this week telling them that most ballot problems can be corrected by sending voters what’s known as a “cure affidavit.” Voters sign the affidavit and attest the ballot is theirs and legitimate. Republicans have said that circumvents the requirement that all absentee ballots have at least one witness signature – a provision that both GOP and Democratic legislators agreed to.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections approved the “cure affidavit” as part of a proposed settlement to a lawsuit. Republicans say the General Assembly should write the election laws and not the board.

Across the state, more than 1 million absentee ballots have been sent to voters. As of Tuesday, 278,000 had been returned.

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