Local voters receive invalid absentee ballot requests

Published 6:33 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2020

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A national voting advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. has mailed some Beaufort County voters invalid absentee ballot request forms.

According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, The Center For Voter Information sent approximately 80,000 absentee ballot request forms to North Carolina residents with voters’ information already filled out on the forms. Beaufort County Board of Elections Director Kellie Hopkins says those forms were mailed to 294 Beaufort County voters.

According to a state law passed last year, however, those forms have to be entirely filled out by voters to be eligible for use in North Carolina elections. The organization that sent out the forms says they shared samples of the mailing with state election officials and had received written assurances from the state that the mailing would be valid.

“As a convenience, CVI had filled out the names and addresses of the 80,000 North Carolina residents, as is common and legal in most states,” a press release from the group said. “However, the new state law in North Carolina is poorly worded and states that a request for absentee ballots is not valid if the ‘completed written request is completed, partially or in whole …’ CVI believed that it was complying with the new law and had received written assurances from the state regarding its mailing.”

The North Carolina State Board of Elections said in a press release last week that the State Board staff did not catch the pre-filled forms when it reviewed the mailing in April.

According to a member of the Center for Voter information team, CVI used the North Carolina voter records to send the vote by mail request forms to registered voters across the state. She added that the organization typically reaches out to “unmarried women, people of color and young people, who are historically underrepresented in North Carolina.”

While a voter’s address, party affiliation and race can be viewed on the North Carolina State Board of Elections website, age can be determined based on public records.

Hopkins says any of the local voters who received a pre-filled form from CVI should start over with a blank form if they want an absentee ballot for the November election.

“You can call us, and we can get you one, or you can download it from the state board website,” Hopkins said. “But if someone does send one of those (pre-filled) requests, we will send them back a letter telling them what has happened, as well as a blank form, so we can get that fixed before the election.”

For more information about obtaining an absentee ballot request form, call the Beaufort County Board of Elections at 252-946-2321 or visit their website at www.beaufortncboe.org.