Sep 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

N.C. election officials agree to accept absentee ballots a week after Election Day

Poll workers count Absentee ballots
Absentee ballot election workers work on ballot applications at the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections office in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo: LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images

The North Carolina State Board of Elections on Tuesday announced it will tentatively count mail-in ballots received by Nov. 12 — up to nine days after the election — so long as they're postmarked on or before Election Day.

Why it matters: If approved by the court, the agreement — which settles a lawsuit brought by a group representing retirees — could see scores of additional votes counted in the crucial battleground state.

Worth noting: The settlement keeps in place a rule requiring voters to have a witness sign their absentee ballot envelope.

  • The State Board will now permit voters whose witnesses fail to fill required fields to correct those errors through an affidavit of the voter.
  • "Issues with deficient witness information on mail-in ballots have disproportionately affected Black voters," AP writes.

The big picture: Four other presidential swing states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin — have extended the deadline by which absentee ballots will be counted.

What they're saying: “Voters deserve certainty," State Board Chair Damon Circosta said. "Our board, both Democrats and Republicans, agreed unanimously to make these commonsense changes to our process amid the Covid-19 pandemic,”

  • “We have ensured that our election process is secure and accessible.”

What to watch: Both the state and the group that sued have agreed to the settlement details, however it must still be approved by a judge.

Go deeper: Court battles shift mail-in voting deadlines in battleground states

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