• 73°

Deficient NC absentee ballots frozen pending further rulings

By Jonathan Drew
Associated Press

A lawyer for North Carolina’s State Board of Elections said Friday that time is running out to process 10,000 absentee ballots with incomplete witness information and other errors after state and federal judges put additional freezes on the process.

Counties had already been under instructions issued Oct. 4 by the state elections board to set deficient absentee ballots aside and take no further action while multiple lawsuits over absentee voting rules unfold.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a stay Thursday night that froze updated rules announced last month for dealing with absentee ballot problems through at least Monday, pending further legal arguments in a state lawsuit. Earlier in the day, U.S. District Judge William Osteen also ruled to maintain a freeze issued by a federal court on the same rules through the end of Friday.

The state elections board will seek to have the state court stay removed so counties can begin asking voters to correct deficient ballots, said Alex Peters, a lawyer in the attorney general’s office who’s representing the state board.

The state estimates that 10,000 absentee ballots with various deficiencies are on hold, and those voters can’t even be notified unless the state and federal courts allow the state to move forward with updated absentee ballot rules, Peters said at a hearing Friday morning in the state lawsuit.

“The current situation is paralysis,” he told a judge, adding: “There is simply not time to keep litigating this.”

The State Board of Elections advised counties Thursday that more detailed guidelines on dealing with deficient ballots would be issued after the lawsuits are resolved.

With less than three weeks until the election, Peters said time is running out for voters to address absentee ballot problems.

A key issue being considered by state and federal appeals courts is what to do with absentee ballots that come in with incomplete information on who witnessed the ballot. Under state law, voters casting the mail-in ballots must have another adult serve as a witness to their vote.

Osteen ruled earlier in the week that voters must start their absentee ballots over from the beginning if they return them without a witness signature. But he said other minor problems such as an incomplete witness address could be fixed through a less strict means such as sending back an affidavit. However, those fixes can’t move forward under the orders issued Thursday.

Republican leaders are also asking the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to shorten a deadline for county boards to accept absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day but are postmarked by Nov. 3. In late September, the state board increased that period from three days to nine as part of the legal settlement in state court with voting rights advocates.

Comments

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death No. 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges

Local

Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting

Local

Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest

News

N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12

Local

Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September

Lifestyle

Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers

Education

Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners

Business

Economic Development Commission creates search tool for people seeking Rowan County jobs

Columns

Amy-Lynn Albertson: Arts and Ag Farm Tour set for June 5

High School

High school baseball: Mustangs top Falcons on strength of hurlers

Business

Biz Roundup: Application process now open for Rowan Chamber’s 29th Leadership Rowan class

Sports

Keith Mitchell leads McIlroy, Woodland by 2 at Quail Hollow

Nation/World

States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes

Nation/World

Major US pipeline halts operations after ransomware attack

News

NC budget dance slowed as GOP leaders differ on bottom line