Incorrect language included on absentee ballot envelopes sent to some District 9 voters

BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. — The North Carolina State Board of Elections is investigating after absentee ballot envelopes with incorrect language were mailed to some voters in the 9th Congressional District.

The admission comes after questions from Channel 9 about the language on the absentee ballot envelopes.

A spokesperson for NCSBE confirms some envelopes contained language that did not make it clear only voters who are disabled can have their ballots picked up.

[SPECIAL SECTION: District 9 Investigation]

According to an email sent to county board of elections directors,  due to an “administrative error,” some counties used absentee voter assistance stickers on envelopes that contained incomplete language.

“The final version of the sticker approved by this agency contained language indicating the limitation that only a voter who “due to a disability” cannot take the ballot to the nearest mailbox or depository may receive assistance in doing so,” Deputy Counsel Katelyn Love wrote.

NCSBE reports fewer than 10 voters returned an absentee envelope with incomplete language and indicated they received assistance. NCSBE says it has no evidence that the incomplete language led to any attempts to engage in fraudulent activity.

[RELATED: District 9 Republican primary held months after election fraud scandal]

A spokesperson for NCSBE says the agency has not received any calls to a hotline set up for voters to report absentee ballot issues.

“The 9th Congressional District evidentiary hearing and indictments of several people, we believe, should serve as a very strong deterrent to anyone who might consider committing fraud in this election,” Patrick Gannon, spokesman for NCSBE, said.

In February, NCSBE board members unanimously called for a new election after hearing evidence a campaign worker for Republican Mark Harris paid people to collect absentee ballots.

In North Carolina, absentee ballot collection is illegal but limited exceptions exist for people with disabilities.

"The state board of elections would not advocate just anyone picking up ballots after this investigation, never have, never will," said Veronica Degraffenreid, election preparation and support manager for NCSBE. "We are trying to figure out what went wrong and how some of the counties received the wrong version of that language."

Degraffenreid says the language that went out to some voters was a draft and not approved by the legal team.

Degraffenreid says NCSBE was trying to make it clear only people with legitimate disabilities or impairments can request assistance.

"That needs to be clearly indicated on the return envelope," she said. "That was the intent of that change. What happened with the actual language and where it was placed is something we are looking into."

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