NC voters who sent absentee ballots without witness signature must start over

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — North Carolina issued new guidance Monday to allow counties to deal with more than 10,000 absentee ballots with various deficiencies that have been in limbo due to court battles over the witness requirement for voting by mail.

Because of ongoing litigation, North Carolina’s ballot curing process had been on hold since October 4.

The State Board of Elections issued a directive telling counties to immediately resume notifying voters whose ballots arrive with a range of deficiencies on how to fix the problem or start the process over.

The memo tells counties that voters who mail-in ballots without a witness signature must start a new ballot and have it witnessed again.

“The State Board has directed the county boards of elections to immediately begin reaching out to voters with problems with their absentee ballots,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the N.C. State Board of Elections. “Our main focus continues to be ensuring all eligible voters can successfully and safely cast ballots in this important election.”

Under the new guidance for curing absentee ballots, the following actions will be taken by county boards of elections:

  • If a voter returns a ballot without a witness signature or assistant signature (if the voter received assistance), a new ballot will be issued by mail to the voter. The first ballot will be spoiled. If the voter already voted in person during the early voting period, a new ballot will not be sent.
  • If a voter returns a ballot with a deficiency other than a missing witness or assistant signature, the county board will send the voter a certification to sign and return to ensure the ballot is counted. Such deficiencies include envelopes not signed by the voter or signed by the voter in the wrong place, as well as envelopes missing the printed name or address of the witness or assistant (if the voter received assistance). Any “Absentee Cure Certification” must be received by the voter’s county board of elections no later than 5 p.m. Thursday, November 12.
  • County boards are expected to contact any voter with an absentee ballot deficiency in writing within one business day to inform the voter of the deficiency and how to correct it.

But the state board said counties can allow voters to fix more minor problems by returning a signed affidavit.

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