North Carolina to mail 1,700% more absentee ballots than 2016

North Carolina is the first state in the nation this cycle to mail out absentee ballots. Election officials warn against voting twice.
Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 7:12 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - With only 61 days until election day, President Trump is casting doubt again over the absentee ballot voting system.

More than 618,000 absentee ballots are being mailed out starting Friday. Election officials say that’s an increase from 2016 of over 1,700%.

“We just want to make sure it’s a fair game,” said Onslow County Elections Director Jason Dedmond. “How do we know that no type of voter fraud will ever happen? Anybody’s who’s willing to be a criminal can try voter fraud.”

Despite North Carolina being the first state in the nation this cycle to mail out its absentee ballots, Dedmond said the county and state election boards are ready for the unprecedented increase.

President Trump, though, isn’t convinced. He suggested during a visit to Wilmington Wednesday that voters in the state should attempt to vote twice to test out the system, and make sure their votes were counted.

“Let them send it in and let them go vote,” said Trump. “And, if they’re system is as good as they say it is, then, obviously, they won’t be able to vote.”

The North Carolina State Board of Elections called that suggestion illegal Thursday.

“There are numerous checks in place in North Carolina that prevent people from double voting,” said North Carolina State Elections Director Karen Brinson Bell in a statement. “If a voter tries to check in who has already voted, they will be prevented from voting a regular ballot.”

Voter fraud in North Carolina is a Class I felony, which could earn the offender up to 12 months in prison.

“This isn’t the first time that we’ve done absentee by mail,” said Bell. “It’s just the first time we’ve done it at this volume.”

President Trump doubled down Thursday morning on the statement in a series of tweets flagged by Twitter.

“Go to your polling place to see whether or not your mail in vote has been tabulated,” tweeted Trump. “You are now assured that your precious vote has been counted.”

Dedmond said that suggestion would not only be a waste of tax dollars, it’s also unnecessary.

“If you are absolutely that worried about your ballot getting back and you’re gonna decide to vote by mail and come in person. Why even vote by mail? Just vote in person,” said Dedmond.

This is the first year North Carolinians can request their absentee ballot online and track their ballot. The system, Ballot Tracks, allows voters to see the status of your ballot after they put it in the mail.

Copyright 2020 WITN. All rights reserved.

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