The State Board of Elections has learned that a voter advocacy group mailed about 80,000 absentee ballot request forms to North Carolina residents with voters’ information already filled out on the forms.
A state law passed last year prohibits election officials from accepting absentee ballot request forms pre-filled “partially or in whole,” and the State Board has instructed county boards of elections not to process such request forms.
The advocacy group, The Center for Voter Information (CVI) in Washington, DC, halted additional mailings with pre-filled voter information after NC elections officials informed the group of the issue. CVI plans to send about 400,000 additional mailings to NC residents, but they will include blank absentee ballot request forms, which are valid.
County boards of elections that receive an invalid absentee request form will send letters to those voters informing them of the issue. The letter will include a blank request form for the voter to return.
The State Board urges voters to discard any absentee ballot request form they receive that includes pre-filled in voter information.
CVI asked State Board staff to review a sample mailing in April, and State Board staff did not catch the pre-filled forms at that time. However, CVI sent some mailings before forwarding the final product to elections officials for review. Election officials discovered the issue after these mailings were sent to voters.
“We will do our best to review mailings and other voting information distributed by third parties when requested and when resources allow for it,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the NC State Board of Elections. “However, it’s ultimately up to advocacy groups to ensure their mailings do not confuse voters or potentially affect their ability to vote in an election.”
All registered voters in North Carolina may request an absentee by-mail ballot. The official 2020 State Absentee Ballot Request Form is available for download from the State Board website. Voters may also pick up a request form from their county board of elections or call their county board to request a form.
For the November 3 general election, the deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is October 27, 2020. Voters may request a ballot now. Starting in early September, ballots will be mailed to voters who request them.