CHARLOTTE — The North Carolina Board of Elections is assuring voters that the election is secure after an initial mix-up with absentee ballots in Mecklenburg County led President Donald Trump to claim that the election is “rigged.”
Some ballots intended for voters in Matthews were mislabeled with the wrong names and were shredded before they could be sent this week, Mecklenburg County election officials said.
Calling it “more of an embarrassment than an issue,” Mecklenburg Board of Elections Director Michael Dickerson said his office double mailed a portion of ballot style 71. The total number of ballots in the order was 933, but the entire ballot style was not double mailed.
“I received my requested mail-in ballot last week and then maybe five days later, I got another one in the mail,” voter Meg Morgan said. “And I’m going, ‘What the heck?’”
Public information manager Kristin Mavromatis said the Board of Elections does not have an exact number of ballots sent out but estimates it was less than 500.
'We caught it in the middle of the batch, and we thought the best thing to do is just destroy all of that and reprint the whole thing," Mavromatis told Channel 9. "What we didn’t realize was that a tray, which is about 300, had already gone out.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted: “Just out: Some people in the Great State of North Carolina have been sent TWO BALLOTS. RIGGED ELECTION in waiting!”
“Each absentee voter has a unique identifier barcode for their return application, and the state system will not permit two ballots from the same person to be accepted or counted,” the statement from the Board of Elections said. “Once one ballot is returned and accepted, the voter’s record reflects that he or she has already voted. Therefore, if that voter returned another ballot, it would not count.”
“It is an unfortunate incident, but the state system will prevent someone from voting twice,” Dickerson stated in an email.
During an audit of ballot style 71, staff discovered a portion of the mailing labels were mislabeled, according to Dickerson.
Staff reprinted all the labels to correct the issue, but some still made their way to voters.
“We shredded the mislabeled but unfortunately some of the ones not mislabeled made it into the mail stream,” Dickerson said.
Despite the error, Dickerson is stressing the system would have prevented a voter from casting two ballots.
“I wondered which one I should use,” Morgan said. “I wondered if I used the wrong ballot, possibly my vote wouldn’t be counted.”
Each absentee voter has a unique identifier barcode for their return application and the Statewide Election Information Management system will not permit the absentee voter to return two absentee return applications, Dickerson said.
When a voter’s ballot is returned and accepted, their record indicates they voted. They won’t be able to vote a second time.
Voters in precincts 216, 217 and 218 also receive ballot style 71.
Mavromatis said if a voter gets two ballots in the mail to pick one and destroy the other because they are the same.
There is a BallotTrax where voters can track their ballot status.
More than 813,000 people have requested to vote by mail statewide.
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