New system in place as North Carolina prepares for historical number of absentee ballots

Updated: Sep. 3, 2020 at 9:01 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The 2020 election officially begins in North Carolina Friday. North Carolina is the first state to send out absentee ballots.

This year because of the pandemic the state has seen an unprecedented number of requests. As of Thursday, the state has just over 618,000 absentee ballots to mail out.

“We redesigned the absentee by mail envelope to make it more user friendly. We had a legislative change that reduced it to one witness and so that was also incorporated into our design,” said Karen Brinson Bell, Executive Director of the State Board of Elections.

Voters have until Oct. 27 to request an absentee ballot online. The state also implemented a new online tool that will allow voters, according to the board’s executive director, to track their ballot online.

“With our ballot tracking tool anyone who made a request will be able to see when we sent it and track to see when it arrived. We want to make sure it’s a safe and easy process for our voters. So, they won’t need to go in person,” Bell added.

“We’re fortunate that there was a bipartisan bill in North Carolina that will help us address some of the things we’ll be facing because of coronavirus, that we’ve not faced in the past. North Carolina is allowed to have absentee board meetings where our county board of elections can go over those ballots and see if there are any deficiencies. And notify voters if there is an issue that needs to be cured. And we’ll able to start processing those ballots and prepare for them to be ready to go the voting machine to tabulated on Election Day, and not feel overwhelmed on Election Day,” Bell told reporters.

Early voting starts Oct. 15-31. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

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