Election law changes for 2010 - late absentee ballots accepted

Because of rightful pushback from military and overseas voters, the 2009 General Assembly made some significant changes in the absentee voting law effective 1/1/2010, among them:

1) Number of witnesses on an absentee ballot dropped from two to one

2) For the presidential general election, ballots will be mailed out 60 days before the election, rather than 50 days.

3) Current law requires ballots to be received by 5:00 pm on the DAY BEFORE the election. New law provides for ALL PRIMARIES AND ELECTIONS that:

        a. for military and overseas voters, ballot must be received  by 5:00 pm on Friday, three days AFTER the election. There is no postmark requirement, as the military rarely uses postmarks.

        b. for all other voters voters, ballot must be postmarked no later than day of election, and ballot must be received  by 5:00 pm on Friday, three days AFTER the election.

This means that the election night unofficial count will no longer be complete, although the board of elections will be able to tell candidates and the press how many ballots have been mailed out and not yet returned, this is the maximum universe of potential late counted ballots.

This late counting of ballots is becoming the norm nationwide.



I mean no disrespect at all to the military, but this is a bad idea.  Any time you have a situation in which ballots can arrive after the election it opens the possibility of having a close election, and then having the outcome changed by ballots somehow getting into the stream after the polls have closed.  Yes, that would be illegal, but the harder you make it to cheat, the less cheating you get.  When you're also talking about ballots that have no postmarks, there's no way of telling when they were sent, and some elections have been so close it wouldn't take many of these ballots to change the outcome of an election.Sending out absentee ballots earlier is fine, but I don't see how this is going to be any fairer-- after all, its just as easy to miss a deadline that's a few days later.

I have never served in the military, have you? I have a number of friends who have served and getting mail is not that easy particularly if you are in some remote location or on a ship somewhere. I have no problem with the new law. I have worked a number of elections including the last and some of these curbside voters don't know where they are and the person who bought them is marking the ballot. I had a voter ask me if I could take a ballot down to the rest home for her parent and I said no that we are not allowed to leave the polling site. Then she wanted to know if she could vote for her parent because she had her power of attorney. I was 95% sure that she could not but I did check with the election board to confrim that she could not.

I sympathize with poor mail delivery, but wouldn't sending the ballots earlier cover that?  Rather than accept late ballots they could send the ballots earlier, and the voter would have extra time to cover delivery issues.  

You know the mail truck doesn't come around everyday or week in some of these remote location. Add in the "poor mail delivery" and it could be weeks before it gets to the election board.Did you know that provisional ballot cast on election day are counted some days later so adding some overseas ballots will have little effect unless you live in one of those counties with a millitary base. In the 2008 november election roughly 60% of the almost 600 provisional ballots were open and counted. Elections are not certified until a week after the election day.

Congress enacted even more absentee voting changes three weeks ago, they apply beginning November 2010, but only to military and overseas voters and only to federal election unless the General Assembly broadens it to cover other voters and State and local elections.Much of the background for why the State and federal laws were enacted this year can be found in this report.17 states allow late ballots in a manner similar to the new NC law, some up to seven to 10 days late, see exhibit six on the report. North Carolina had the earliest return date in the country.also see a longer introduction to the problem

I have friends and family that live overseas (like OP's own Joan P) and the problem is that they have had a very short window in which to request the ballot and get it back. The problem that just sending them earlier doesn't address is that a lot of pertinent information doesn't become available until right before the election.

For example, what if you want to take Independent endorsements into account?  They typically come out 6 days before the election.


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