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How mail-in ballot rule chaos in North Carolina is hurting Black voters

October 15, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

"I Voted" stickers lie in a box for voters after they place their ballots at an early voting site in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago

Almost 1,000 absentee ballots are sitting in a locked bin somewhere in the Guilford County Board of Elections waiting to be processed.

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the North Carolina State Board of Elections from allowing voters to "cure" or fix a missing witness signature with a signed affidavit but determined that other types of deficient witness information, like a missing or incomplete address, can be cured without casting a new ballot.

Anthony Spears, president of the North Carolina NAACP and a member of the Guilford County Board of Elections, said the problem lies in the need for more voter education as voters switch to mail-in voting in unprecedented numbers -- a move Democrats, especially, have favored, while Republicans continue to encourage voters to go to the polls as usual.

According to data posted on the North Carolina State Board of Elections website, Black voters cast only 2,460 of the 26,514 mail-in ballots in the March 3 presidential primary.

An early October memo issued to the counties by the North Carolina State Board of Election asked county boards to hold off on processing ballots that are missing witness information "in order to avoid confusion while related matters are pending in a number of courts. "

On Thursday, the North Carolina board of elections emailed county election directors and boards noting it would take time to finalize guidance based on the ruling, and advised county election officials that if a voter's ballot status is listed as anything other than "accepted" or "accepted-cured," "they will be contacted as soon as possible if there is an issue with their ballot that requires action by the voter. "

The state also said that voters with a pending deficiency can vote early in-person, and the pending ballot will be canceled.

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