Over 4,000 military absentee ballots outstanding in North Carolina

Service members said they served and fought for their right to have their voices heard.
Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 7:17 PM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - Over 116,000 requested absentee ballots across North Carolina have not yet been returned.

That’s including over 4,100 absentee ballots from service members overseas, according to Count Every Hero, an organization advocating for service members votes to be counted before winners are announced.

“When I was in, I was always concerned about who’s going to be my commander in chief,” said Joseph Houle, a retired Sergeant Major in the United States Marine Corps. “Who’s going to be the one that I report to when, God forbid, something happens around the world, and he has to send us to Iraq or Vietnam?”

The right to vote is a right that hits close to home for Houle. It’s a right, he said, he and his fellow Marines fought, and some died for.

“If the absentee votes got in on time, from all the services, that’s over a million votes,” said Houle. “So, yes. It is very important that they vote and it’s counted and counted correctly.”

But it could be a while before the voices of service members are heard. The deadline for absentee ballots for the military has always been Nov. 12, before a Supreme Court ruling made that the deadline for all absentee ballots in the state.

“It’s a constitutional right that our service members fight for,” said Camp Lejeune Communications Officer Nat Fahy. “We want to ensure that they have that ability that every American has.”

The Marine Corps has voting officers in each unit responsible for coordinating absentee ballots down to the county their officers are voting in, according to Fahy. Their job is to get them their absentee ballots as quickly as possible.

“Around 45 days before the election,” said Fahy. Because we know there’s going to be slow-downs in the mail."

Election officials in Onslow County, home to Camp Lejeune, say about 36% of requested absentee ballots have not yet been returned. According to Houle, the ones that do eventually make it back, do have the power to sway the results of the election.

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