Mail-in ballots in NC still must be postmarked by Election Day

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Supreme Court voted to allow North Carolina to continue accepting mail-in ballots until November 12. But the deadline to actually mail-in or drop off your ballot doesn’t change.

The state typically accepts mail-in ballots up to three days after the election. This year, the State Board of Elections extended that deadline to up to nine days after the election.

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“In previous elections, they would have to be received by our office three days later,” Brunswick County Board of Elections Director Sara Knotts said. “Now, voters’ ballots can be received up until the day before canvas, and canvas is 10 days after the election.”

This extension allows ballots to be received until November 12, but they still must be dropped off at a polling site by Tuesday at 5 p.m., or postmarked by Tuesday.

Knotts says this extension doesn’t really change their process at the Board of Elections.

“The real change in our process, we don’t really have one,” Knotts said. “We always checked for postmarks for ballots received on or after election day. There was a requirement that it be postmarked. So we’re going to be checking those anyway.”

She also says the extension doesn’t really delay when you will know the final outcomes of races.

“A common misconception is what you see election night is it,” she said.

Knotts says votes for every race have to be canvassed, which still happens after the extended deadline to accept mail-in ballots. This year, she says canvassing will happen on November 13.

“A process from election day, and then North Carolina county canvas in 10 days later,” she said. “That gives us an opportunity to audit.”

She says the main difference this year, is mail-in ballots can be accepted up until the day before canvassing. But she reminds people, ballots still must be postmarked or dropped off at a polling site by election day.

While you still have time to mail-in or drop off your absentee ballot, Knotts urges people not to wait until Tuesday. She says mail collection hours could differ by post office, so if you drop off your ballot too late Tuesday, it may not be postmarked until the next day.

Every year, she says they do see mail-in ballots that either don’t have a postmark, or are postmarked after Election Day.