North Carolina Voters Receive Duplicate Absentee Ballots After Mix-Up

BY KATABELLA ROBERTS

A mix-up with the first absentee ballots sent in North Carolina caused some voters to receive two identical ballots for the November general election, local election officials told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

Mecklenburg County election officials said that some ballots intended for voters in Matthews, North Carolina, were mislabeled with the wrong names and were shredded before being sent.

When officials printed new mailing labels to correct the mistake, some voters ended up getting two duplicate ballots.

Election Director Michael Dickerson said that fewer than 500 voters were impacted by the mix-up, adding that it is unlikely that voters could have cast two ballots, as each mailing label contains an individual code that cannot be recorded twice.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump reacted to the mix-up, posting: “Just out: Some people in the Great State of North Carolina have been sent TWO BALLOTS. RIGGED ELECTION in waiting!”

About 813,000 absentee ballots had been requested in North Carolina as of Sept. 14, as millions of Americans prepare to vote by mail to avoid polling places during the CCP virus pandemic.

Earlier this week, Trump instructed North Carolinians to cast their vote again in-person if they learned that their mail-in vote had not been counted.

People cast their ballots for the 2016 general elections at a crowded polling station as early voting begins in Carrboro, N.C., on Oct. 20, 2016. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

Trump has been vehemently opposed to universal mail-in voting, suggesting that the practice is unsafe and could lead to voter fraud.

“To make sure your Ballot COUNTS, sign & send it in EARLY. When Polls open, go to your Polling Place to see if it was COUNTED. IF NOT, VOTE! Your signed Ballot will not count because your vote has been posted. Don’t let them illegally take your vote away from you!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

However, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein advised people on Saturday to not follow the President’s directions with regard to going to polling places on Election Day to check if their mail-in vote was counted.

“Do NOT do what the President directs. To make sure your ballot COUNTS, sign and send it in EARLY. Then track it ONLINE,” Stein wrote on Twitter, including a link to a website where voters can track their ballots.

Earlier this month, North Carolina State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell issued a press release reminding people that it is illegal to vote twice in a federal election.

N.C.G.S. § 163-275(7) makes it a Class I felony for a voter, ‘with intent to commit a fraud to register or vote at more than one precinct or more than one time…in the same primary or election. Attempting to vote twice in an election or soliciting someone to do so also is a violation of North Carolina law,’” she explained.

There are numerous checks in place in North Carolina that prevent people from double voting, such as electronic poll books which contain information about who has already voted which are used at every early voting site.

On Election Day, voters who have voted absentee are removed from the poll book, which is updated before voting starts at 6:30 a.m.

Absentee ballots that are received on Election Day are not counted until after the election, and this prevents double voting, and the State Board conducts audits after each election to check voter history against ballots cast, meaning they can detect if someone tries to vote more than once in an election.

The State Board has a dedicated investigations team that investigates allegations of double voting, which are referred to prosecutors when warranted.

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