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Absentee ballot requests 11 times greater than in 2016

Eleven times as many North Carolina voters are requesting absentee ballots compared to the 2016 presidential election, the State Board of Elections reports.

With 77 days remaining before the Nov. 3 election, 295,959 Tar Heels had asked their county board of elections to send them an absentee ballot. In 2016 the number at 77 days out was 26,906 requests.

Tyrrell voters have requested 43 absentee ballots thus far, compared with 35 in the 2016 general election, Emily Hodges, Tyrrell’s elections director, said Monday.

The state board reports the 2020 requests received by political party through Aug. 18 as follows. Figures in parentheses are number of requests in 2016:

Constitution 51 (0)

Democratic 156,960 (9,953)

Green 113 (0)

Libertarian 693 (87)

Republican 44,867 (9,643)

Unaffiliated 93,275 (7,223)

COVID-19 is undoubtedly playing a major role in the greater number of absentee ballot requests this year, along with heavy emphasis by political parties and some candidates on absentee voting.

These requests are taxing county election board staffs across North Carolina to ensure that ballots are sent on time according to law.

In the midst of these unstable conditions, the State Board of Elections has decided to “improve” the absentee ballot request process by creating a new form.

Updates to the request form include a cleaner design and improved accessibility and use for all voters.

“This new form is more user friendly and one of many steps we have taken to make voting simpler for North Carolinians in the era of COVID-19,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “Whether by mail or in-person, we want folks to vote in the manner they’re most comfortable with this fall.”

 

The absentee ballot request form can be mailed, emailed, faxed or returned in-person to your county board of elections.

The State Board also will launch an online absentee ballot request portal by September 1, Bell announced. Through the portal, voters will be able to request a ballot completely online, with no need to print out or mail a request form.

No special circumstance or reason is needed to request, receive, and vote an absentee ballot. Any North Carolina registered voter may request and receive a mail-in absentee ballot for the 2020 general election.

County boards of elections will begin sending ballots on September 4 to those who request them. If you have already requested a ballot and do not receive it between September 15 and 20, email or call your county board of elections to ask about the status of your request, Bell urged.

“If you’ve already submitted a request form, please do not submit another one, even if you get one in the mail. Duplicate requests are burdensome for county boards of elections and may delay the processing of your request,” she added.

Along with the new form, the previous State Absentee Ballot Request Form is still a valid form for the 2020 general election.

North Carolina voters have three options for voting: mail-in absentee, in-person during the early voting period, and in-person on Election Day, Nov. 3. Significant health safeguards will be in place for voters who cast their ballot in person.

The early voting period for the general election is October 15 through October 31. Eligible individuals may register and vote at the same time using same-day registration during the early voting period at any one-stop location in the county.

Election Day is November 3. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and voters should vote at their assigned precinct.

The Tyrrell elections board office is in the courthouse in Columbia. Telephone number is 252-796-0775. Email elections@tyrrellcounty.net.