Common mistakes to avoid when voting absentee

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Common mistakes to avoid when voting absentee (Photo: Sydney Bouchelle/WWAY)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Nearly 20,000 absentee ballots requested and almost 7,500 ballots returned and approved in Brunswick County with two weeks away from the beginning of early voting.

Brunswick County Board of Elections Director Sara Knotts says absentee voting is heavy this year.

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Knotts says the postal service recommends giving your ballot at least a week to reach the BOE, but she says the sooner the better.

“Part of the process if if you don’t complete your envelope correctly, we can actually reach out to you and give you a chance to correct it. So the sooner you provide that ballot for us to review, we have more time to let you know what the problems are,” Knotts said.

Some common problems they’ve seen so far involve the witness portion of the ballot.

“We are seeing situations where there’s no witness at all, maybe the witness did not print their name but they signed, maybe they provided a partial address,” Knotts said. “Like just a street address and we couldn’t determine the city, state and zip.”

And if you’ve made a mistake, do not use white out.

“If you use white out on a ballot, our scanner cannot read it,” Knotts said. It actually rejects the ballot completely and we have to duplicate it onto a new ballot.”

Duplication basically means your ballot was not read by the scanner and a bi-partisan team will fill out another ballot with your selections in front of the board to make sure it is read properly.

Knotts reassures voters if duplication is necessary, it’s done in the presence of the board by a bi-partisan team to make sure your vote counts where you intended.

If you do make a mistake while filling out your ballot, she suggests calling your local Board of Elections and they can give you instructions on how to correct that mistake or send you a new ballot.

Finally, Knotts points out the ballots are tied to their envelopes with serial numbers. So if you and others in your household are voting absentee make sure not to mix them up.

“Take your time, read the instructions, pay attention to what you’re supposed to do with the ballot,” she said.

The State Board of Elections launched BallotTrax in early September, so voters casting their ballots from home can keep track of the status of their ballot.

The system can track your ballot from the moment its printed to when it’s been accepted by the Board of Elections, and if there’s any problems you’ll be notified that you’ll be receiving information in the mail on how to correct it.

For more information on BallotTrax, click here.

If you have additional questions about absentee voting, early voting or other information about the election, Knott’s says it’s important to reach out to your county’s Board of Elections to make sure you are getting information that is accurate for your location.