President Trump reacts as some N.C. voters mistakenly get 2 absentee ballots

Updated: Sep. 17, 2020 at 7:35 PM EDT
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MATTHEWS, N.C. (WBTV/AP) - President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday about an election mixup that resulted in some Mecklenburg County voters receiving two absentee ballots.

Mecklenburg County election officials said this week that some ballots intended for voters in Matthews were mislabeled with the wrong names and were shredded before they could be sent.

When officials printed new mailing labels to correct the mistake, some voters ended up getting two duplicate ballots.

Election Director Michael Dickerson said fewer than 500 voters were affected.

He added that it’s unlikely voters could’ve cast two ballots since each mailing label has an individual code making it impossible to vote twice.

Trump tweeted about the issue, and called the upcoming election a “RIGGED ELECTION in waiting!”

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein responded to Trump’s tweet, stressing that protections are in place to ensure someone can’t vote twice.

Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, issued a statement to provide clarity to the situation Thursday.

Bell emphasized that North Carolina’s statewide election management system will not allow a voter to vote twice in an election.

The NCSBE director said this mistake happened after an election worker misplaced labels on absentee return envelopes. Some ballots with misplaced labels had already made it to the mail stream before the issue was detected.

To ensure all affected voters received a ballot that could be successfully returned, Bell says a new ballot was mailed to them.

Bell emphasized that each absentee voter has a unique identifier barcode for their return application, and the state system will not permit two ballots from the same person to be accepted or counted.

Once one ballot is returned and accepted, officials say the voter’s record reflects that he or she has already voted. Therefore, if that voter returned another ballot, it would not count.

In the first two weeks of absentee voting in North Carolina, county boards of elections across North Carolina have mailed out about 817,000 ballots, and 88,000 North Carolinians' ballots have been returned and accepted. Mecklenburg County has sent out about 115,000 ballots.

“We are proud of the work our county boards of elections are doing under extremely difficult circumstances and with an exponential increase in by-mail voting. We want to assure voters that the system is set up to ensure the election will not be affected and no one will be able to vote twice as a result of this incident,” Bell said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press and WBTV. All rights reserved.