Do We Finally Have Certainty for North Carolina Voters? Let’s Hope So!

Do We Finally Have Certainty for North Carolina Voters? Let’s Hope So!

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: In North Carolina, mail-in voting has been a mess. But with early voting underway and Election Day just around the corner, do we finally have certainty for North Carolina voters? It seems that the answer to that question might be yes.

Over the past week, NC voters have been through the wringer of legal updates to mail-in voting — is the end near?

Looks like we may finally have certainty for North Carolina voters
Image courtesy of Tareq Ismail on Unsplash.

Just a week ago, we reported on the controversial Board of Elections settlement. Under that settlement, mail-in voters who fail to have someone witness their ballots were able to correct that mistake with an affidavit.

Critics immediately expressed alarm and outrage at that provision of the settlement. According to those critics, this “cure” procedure would let voters avoid the witness requirement altogether by voting without a witness and then going to their local board of elections office to prepare an affidavit instead.

While the settlement was controversial, it did provide some certainty. That certainty, however, didn’t last long.

Do we have some certainty for North Carolina voters?
Image courtesy of René DeAnda on Unsplash.

Later last week, we also reported that a federal court put a stop to the “cure” procedure. “Whether because a voter inadvertently cast a ballot without a witness or because a voter was aware of the ‘cure’ procedure and thus, willfully did not cast a ballot with a witness, there will be voters whose ballots are cast without a witness,” the judge wrote.

Again, voters had certainty. Yet, just hours after that decision, Republican-affiliated groups involved in the lawsuit announced their decision to challenge that decision. This move again left voters uncertain just days before their mail-in ballots were potentially due.

NC Attorney General announces settlement in mail-in voting legal battle, finally creating certainty for North Carolina voters.

Yesterday, however, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced on Twitter that a settlement had been reached. Under the settlement, voters who submit a mail-in ballot with the required witness signature will have to fill out a new ballot with a witness that signs the ballot in order for it to count. Voters can cure other minor errors, however, an affidavit.

What does this mean for NC voters? The answer is simple and — hopefully — certain. If you vote by mail, make sure someone witnesses you vote and signs your ballot envelope. If you do this, your vote will count. However, if you submitted a mail-in ballot without a witness’s signature on the envelope, your vote did not count. And you still need to properly cast your vote. The good news is that your county board of elections should be contacting you about the mistake.

This news comes as yet another legal decision comes out that impacts mail-in voting here in NC. On Monday, the NC Court of Appeals ruled that mail-in ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 will count if received by Nov. 12. And, with more than a million North Carolinians already voting, this certainty comes at just the last minute. But, if we’ve learned anything from the Board of Elections mess, any certainty that comes with the NC Court of Appeals’ ruling is likely temporary.

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