DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's not news anymore to election officials that more North Carolinians than ever are choosing to vote by mail.
What's new, however, is the speed at which ballots are returning -- which for election officials expecting record-high turnout -- is a very good thing.
"These vote-by-mail numbers are far greater than we've ever seen in North Carolina history," said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the N.C. State Board of Elections. "They show that the process is working well for the vast majority of North Carolina voters who choose to vote by mail."
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As the calendar reached October, county boards of elections have already approved an estimated 300,000 absentee ballots -- almost one-third of all those requested and 4% of all registered voters, according to state officials. They will be counted in unofficial results reported on election night.
"Our board approved and scanned 13,975 ballots," Derek Bowens, Durham County Director of Elections, told ABC11. "We completely reconciled those on a precinct level and returned-type level. The process is working."
Bowens added that his office continues to send out new batches of ballots twice a week, and "thousands" are coming back every day, either via mail or in person at a tent set up outside the Board of Elections office in Downtown Durham.
State officials are reporting 3.4% of returned ballots have been set aside for problems or deficiencies.
"Many voters are casting their ballots by mail for the first time, so some mistakes are expected," Brinson Bell said. "We strongly encourage voters to carefully read the instructions and be sure to complete all required fields on the envelope."
The last day to request an absentee ballot is October 27. Early voting, moreover, begins October 15.