Third parties sending out confusing absentee ballot request forms

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Campaign letters have been sent out for decades. But with such a high demand for absentee ballots this year, many third parties are upping their game, changing their layouts to make some people believe they’re from the Board of Elections.

Though it’s not illegal to send voters absentee request forms, this year third parties have sent an onslaught of confusing mail-ins.

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The ads sometimes look like sample ballots with bubbles filled in, and sometimes resemble absentee ballot request forms. They some may claim to be official, if they’re not from the North Carolina Board of Elections, they are fake.

“Being a lawyer, I’d have to tell you, if you read the fine print you might notice that it doesn’t say it’s from the Board of Elections, it creates the appearance that it is,” says Jonathan Washburn, a member of the Board of Elections. “Particularly when they send possible ballots, things that look like ballots. The Board of Elections is not going to mail a ballot to anybody that has not requested it.”

But New Hanover County Elections Director, Rae Hunter-Havens says official Board of Elections mail will have some key differences:

“Inside is the official envelope that must be used. That return envelope essentially is gonna kind of look like this. And it’s going to have our return address on one side, and it’s going to have some of their information up here on the top, and it’s going to kind of list out the steps they need to do to complete the application process.”

“My brother-in-law is actually disabled, and needs to get an absentee ballot, and go through the process,” says Andrew Olonkl, an Ogden resident who received a letter. “But if this were to interfere with their intentions, he might not really be able to voice who he wants to vote for.”

Elizabeth Kaltman and Andrew Olonkl received one of these forms in the mail. But instead of filling it out, they took it to the Board of Elections, who told them it was electioneering material passing itself off as official.

“They may think that they are applying for an absentee ballot, and if it gets ripped up, they will never get the ballot, a possibly never get a chance to vote,” states Kaltman.

If you receive an absentee ballot and you didn’t request one, Hunter urges you to call or visit you local board of elections.

If you’d like to check for yourself, Hunter also says to look at the envelopes. If they carry a Board of Elections letterhead, Board of Elections return address, and the words “official election mail” or “official absentee ballot material”,  it probably is credible.