Editorial: Still options for those who haven’t returned absentee ballot

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 29, 2020

On Wednesday, there were still a few thousand absentee by mail ballots that had been requested and not yet returned in Rowan County.

For some voters, the ballot may be sitting on a kitchen counter, a desk or a living room table. A limited number may still be on their way to voters. But with just days until the election, voters should remember it’s also OK to hand deliver absentee by mail ballots. They are called absentee by mail ballots, but they don’t have to arrive at the local board of elections via the U.S. Postal Service.

True, your ballot may arrive in time via the Postal Service. And that’s especially true following a decision late Wednesday from the U.S. Supreme Court. It chose to allow an extension of the date on which ballots can be received: Nov. 12.

All ballots, though, must be postmarked on or before Election Day.

Even with mailing delays, mailed ballots should make it on time to the Rowan County Board of Elections. A news release issued last week reported a 23% increase in mail, including political campaign mail, but 85.58% of first class mail was delivered on time (one to three business days) and 97.25% was delivered within two days of the service standard.

That still leaves a small gap with an unknown delivery date. Voters can avoid letting their ballot fall in the gap of a few percentage points by returning it in person to the Rowan County Board of Elections, located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. W, Suite D10. The elections office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Absentee by mail ballots can also be returned to any of the county’s early voting sites, which are open 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today and Friday, as well as 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Absentee sites are as follows:

• Rowan County Board of Elections

• South Rowan Public Library, 920 Kimball Road in China Grove

• Cleveland Town Hall, 302 East Main Street in Cleveland.

• Rockwell American Legion Building, 8580 U.S. 52 in Rockwell

• Spencer Municipal Building, 600 S. Salisbury Ave. in Spencer

Absentee by mail ballots cannot be returned to your precinct polling location on Election Day.

People who have underlying health conditions or are otherwise uncomfortable returning their ballot in person can have it returned by a close family member — defined by the state as a spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, stepchild or legal guardian.

It’s also possible that some voters may have accidentally discarded their ballots. That’s OK. Your vote can still be counted. Voters who have requested an absentee by mail ballot are still allowed to vote in person as long as he or she did not return the mailed ballot already.

Time is running out to send a ballot through the Postal Service, but voters should know there are still options to vote if they have requested an absentee ballot.