Between three to five Halifax County residents received absentee ballot request forms which already had their names and addresses on them, board of elections Director Kristin Scott said today.
The forms were sent from an advocacy group called The Center for Voter Information, which describes itself as a “non-partisan and non-profit organization that works to provide even-handed and unbiased information about candidates and their positions on issues.”
The organization sent 80,000 of these forms to North Carolina voters with their information already filled out.
Scott said she instructed those residents who called the elections office to discard the forms and at the request of the voter, a new one was placed in the mail.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections in a press release said a state law passed last year prohibits election officials from accepting absentee ballot request forms pre-filled “partially or in whole,” and the state board has instructed county boards of elections not to process such request forms.
The advocacy group, the state said, halted additional mailings with pre-filled voter information after North Carolina elections officials informed the group of the issue.
CVI plans to send about 400,000 additional mailings to state residents, but they will include blank absentee ballot request forms, which are valid.
County boards of elections that receive an invalid absentee request form will send a letter to the voter informing them of the issue. The letter will include a blank request form for the voter to return.
“The state board urges voters to discard any absentee ballot request form they receive that includes pre-filled voter information,” the press statement said.
CVI asked the state board staff to review a sample mailing in April. State board staff did not catch the pre-filled forms at that time. However, CVI sent some mailings before forwarding the final product to elections officials for review.
Election officials discovered the issue after these mailings were sent to voters.
“We will do our best to review mailings and other voting information distributed by third parties when requested and when resources allow for it,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections. “However, it’s ultimately up to advocacy groups to ensure their mailings do not confuse voters or potentially affect their ability to vote in an election.”
All registered voters in North Carolina may request an absentee by-mail ballot.
The official absentee ballot request form is available for download at this link.
Voters may also pick up a request form from their county board of elections or call their county board to request a form.
For the November 3 general election, the deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is October 27. Voters may request a ballot now. Starting in early September, ballots will be mailed to voters who request them.