Absentee ballot changes in effect after election fraud scandal

RALEIGH, N.C. — From the presidential primary to county commissioner races, ballots have been mailed and people are voting.

But unlike in years past, we don't know who is receiving and casting their ballots by mail.

A Channel 9 investigation that exposed election fraud resulted in a new race for the 9th congressional district. Political operative McCrae Dowless was able to pay workers to collect absentee ballots, an act that is illegal in North Carolina.

Dowless and his workers found the voters by using publicly available data. NCSBE used to list all voters who requested ballots, whether they voted, their address and political party.

Now, most of that information is secret until Election Day.

“The biggest thing that this offers is that protection to the voters now from that same situation,” said Michael Dickerson, Mecklenburg elections director. “You cannot now circumvent an absentee ballot law and that is good.”

But the changes will have an impact on campaigns.

It is common practice for candidates to send flyers, make phone calls or canvas voters who requested absentee ballots by mail.

Political consultant Larry Shaheen said without the list containing detailed absentee voter information, that entire strategy is dead.

“Doing this, I think, will ensure we don’t see another 9th District ever again,” he said. “I think what you are going to see is an absolute dearth in absentee ballot activity in the next year.”

Voters can call their local board of elections to verify their ballot has been received.

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