North Carolina Election officials worked on Wednesday, Sept. 2 and on Thursday, Sept. 3 to get their advice out to the public as to how people who vote by mail should behave on Election Day.
The NC State Board of Election’s quick public information campaign came just hours after statements President Donald Trump made in Wilmington, where he encouraged people who vote by mail to “send it in and then go make sure it counted.” Trump said if the vote wasn’t “tabulated” then the person should vote at the polling place.
State election officials have been working hard for months to aid voters who wish to vote by mail in order to keep Election Day crowds at polls to a minimum during the pandemic. Soon after the president’s remarks, Karen Brinson Bell, the executive director of the NC State Board of Elections, put out a statement that informed people they could track mailed ballots electronically and added that there was no reason to go to a polling place.
“The State Board office strongly discourages people from showing up at the polls on Election Day to check whether their absentee ballot was counted,” she wrote in a memo sent to election directors and others around the state. “That is not necessary, and it would lead to longer lines and the possibility of spreading COVID-19.”
The memo explained that voters who’ve voted already cast an absentee ballot are removed from the poll book – which is updated before Election Day voting starts.
Bell stated, “Also, the State Board conducts audits after each election that check voter history against ballots cast and would detect if someone tries to vote more than once in an election. Because absentee ballots and early voting ballots are retrievable, if someone tries to get around the system, their ballot can be retrieved and not counted, so it will not affect the outcome of an election.”
Everyone from Trump to the state’s elections officials are telling voters who vote by mail to send in their votes as early as possible to avoid any last-minute problems.
In Bell’s Tuesday night statement and in comments she made on Wednesday afternoon during a press briefing, she noted that voters can check online using the state board’s Voter Search Tool to find out whether their ballot was accepted by their county’s board of elections.
They’ll also soon be able to use “BallotTrax,” an online service that will allow voters to track their ballot through the mail and confirm receipt by a county board of elections. When that service launches – any day now –a link will be available at NCSBE.gov.