Raleigh couple rethink voting by mail after having trouble getting their mail

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A couple who planned to vote by mail this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic say they’re now questioning whether to do that due to an ongoing issue they’ve experienced with getting their mail. 

Phillip Linder and Ryan Jones, who live in Raleigh, first noticed in mid-July they should have received election-related mail that never made it to their house.  

In August and then again this week, they received notifications and pictures from the U.S. Postal Service that they should receive letters that contain absentee ballot applications. Those pieces of mail never arrived, they said. 

“If I can’t even get information about how to vote by mail, would I be able to receive my ballot in the mail and would it get back to where it’s supposed to go in a timely fashion to get counted?” Linder said.

When they moved to Raleigh last year, they signed up for a service called “Informed Delivery,” which is how they know what mail they should be receiving but aren’t. 

“We’ve been active voters our entire lives, so we want to just make sure we’re doing our civic duty and our votes are being counted,” said Jones. “When you hear in the news about things going in with mail-in ballots and the lack of trust in the mail-ballot process, it was one of those things: is something bigger than it seems or deeper than it seems?” 

There’s been an intense focus on the mail-in ballot process this year, as more North Carolinians than ever before plan to utilize it. At the same time, cutbacks at the Postal Service have raised concerns in some voters’ minds about whether their ballots will make it back in time.

Congress recently held hearings with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, questioning him about the agency’s preparedness to handle a surge in mail-in ballots. 

DeJoy has said the postal service is capable of processing the ballots.  

Linder and Jones said they planned to vote by mail for the first time this year because Linder works at an assisted living facility and does not want to risk exposing himself or anyone else to COVID-19. 

“I work with geriatric patients every day, and so I worry about taking that back. Being at risk of COVID with being around all those people, not knowing who I’d be around with going to vote,” Linder said. 

A spokesperson for the Postal Service said they were looking into the issue reported by Linder and Jones. 

As of Friday, data from the NC State Board of Elections shows 758,057 people have requested absentee- by-mail ballots. Of those, 9,966 already have been returned and accepted.  

Voters legally have until Oct. 27 to request an absentee ballot, but election officials are encouraging people to make those requests earlier to ensure there’s enough time to mail them and correct a mistake if one should occur.  

You don’t need to wait for an application to arrive in your mailbox to be able to vote by mail. People can apply for an absentee-by-mail ballot online through the N.C. State Board of Elections

Linder and Jones said they’re making contingency plans now to be able to vote   

“We were both hoping to utilize the mail-in ballots, but we will vote any way we need to (in order) to vote in this election,” said Jones. “Our primary concerns are whether our vote counts.”  

In a news release, the board of elections said there are ways to track a mail-in ballot online: 

  1. Check your voter record at the State Board’s Voter Search Tool to find out whether your ballot was accepted by your county board of elections. This information will appear in the voter record after a ballot has been accepted. 
  2. Sign up for BallotTrax, when it launches in the next few days, to track your ballot through the system. BallotTrax is a new service that will allow voters to track their ballot through the mail and confirm receipt by the county board of elections, much like they can track their online order or pizza delivery.  When it launches, a link will be available at NCSBE.gov
  3. Contact your county board of elections if you have questions about their ballot status. 

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