"In the times we're in, more people utilized vote by mail than ever before," Bob Phillips, Executive Director of Common Cause NC, said. "It's something new, mistakes were made, and that's not anything unheard of or unusual. But the good thing is we have this window of time."
That window of time is exclusive to those ballots that were sent in the mail, postmarked by Nov. 3, and arriving at the voter's respective county board of election by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12.
Earlier estimates from officials reported just 2-3% of the more than one million absentee ballot requests actually had issues, but with so many races split by razor thin margins these ballots could be the difference.
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"We've got a statewide race that's separated by 3,700 votes," Phillips said, referring to the race for Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. "We just don't know where these absentee ballots are coming. We don't know how many will be in the door properly until it happens."
How to make sure your vote was counted in North Carolina in the 2020 election
After a series of lawsuits, courts finally accepted a curing process for absentee ballots where the following actions will be taken by county boards of elections:
- 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.
Prior to Election Day, voters could be sent a new ballot, if theirs was missing a witness signature. The deadline for that has clearly passed and thus any ballot with that problem will be indefinitely spoiled.
Voters may determine whether their ballot was accepted by signing up for BallotTrax. Absentee and in-person early voters may also check whether their ballot was accepted through the State Board's Voter Search tool. Finally, a voter may contact their county board of elections.
HOW TO CHECK
Once your ballot is received by your county board of elections, you can find that your vote counted in the "Your Absentee Ballot" section of the Voter Search database. "Absentee Status" will show "VALID RETURN," the "Return Method" will be "MAIL" and your "Return Status" will be "ACCEPTED" or "ACCEPTED - CURED".
Your ballot status will also show up in the "Voter History" section as soon as your county completes the post-election process of assigning voter history to your record. This may take a couple of weeks or longer.