Absentee voting by mail safe, secure, elections officials say

Published 9:08 am Friday, August 7, 2020

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The following is a statement from the State Board of Elections office about the security of absentee voting by mail in North Carolina, provided by public information officer Patrick Gannon and forwarded by Davie Elections Director Tabatha Parrish.

Across North Carolina, election officials have worked for many months to ensure accessible, safe and accurate elections in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are 12 reasons why absentee by-mail voting is safe and secure in North Carolina:

1. Election officials send ballots only to registered voters who request them using official request forms.

2. The voter or their near relative must fill out and sign the request form. Required information includes the voter’s date of birth and the voter’s driver’s license number or last four digits of their Social Security number.

3. Fraudulently or falsely completing the form is a Class I felony.

4. In 2020, voters must vote their ballot in the presence of one witness. The witness must sign the absentee return envelope, certifying that the voter marked their ballot and is the registered voter submitting the ballot.

5. Only the voter or their near relative or legal guardian may return the ballot. County boards of elections keep a log of who drops off absentee ballots.

6. Upon return, the county board of elections reviews the absentee envelope to ensure compliance with the legal requirements.

7. Once the ballot is accepted, that voter is marked in the system as having voted in that election. If that voter tries to vote in person, poll workers will know the person has already submitted an absentee ballot.

8. Data on who has requested absentee ballots is confidential until Election Day. This reduces the ability of third parties to attempt to tamper with ballots, as they will not know who has requested a ballot or when ballots are sent out.

9. Criminal penalties have been increased for absentee voting fraud-related offenses.

10. Many people are watching North Carolina’s absentee voting process, including candidates, political parties, county boards of elections, political and data scientists and the media. If there are anomalies or questionable activities, they will be reported to election officials.

11. The State Board Investigations Division, which has a dedicated team of experienced investigators, investigates credible allegations of election fraud and refers cases to prosecutors when warranted by the evidence.

12. The State Board conducts post-election audits which will catch inconsistencies which can then be investigated by the board or the Investigations Division.

The president of the United States does not have the authority to unilaterally change an election date. The date for the presidential election is set by federal law.  To change the date would require legislation enacted by Congress and signed by the president.

In addition, the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that the new Congress’s term begin in on Jan. 3, and the new president’s term begin on Jan. 20. Those dates cannot be changed without amending the Constitution.