ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — UPDATE: On October 20, a federal appeals court ruled that the State of North Carolina can count absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day for upwards of nine days after the election. This was an extension from the previous three-day deadline.
North Carolina voting officials continue to oppose President Trump's suggestion that voters should both vote by mail and show up to polls on Election Day to check their vote and potentially vote again.
Casting ballots twice is illegal and North Carolina election leaders said it’s unnecessary to show up to the polls after voting by mail. They also said it could be dangerous during this pandemic.
“We’re a little bit concerned that if a lot of people start showing up at the polls, the lines will be longer and there will be a greater possibility for spreading coronavirus," Patrick Gannon, North Carolina State Board of Elections Public Information Officer said.
President Trump said Friday night in a "telerally" that voters should vote by mail and then go to their polling place anyway to "see whether or not your mail-in vote has been tabulated or counted."
Voters can check if their absentee by mail ballot has been received by checking the North Carolina State Board of Elections website, using the BallotTrax system that will be rolled out this week online, and by calling their county board of elections office.
In a statement, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said President Trump's suggestions of double voting insults the integrity and efforts of election officials across the state.
"Actively promoting voter fraud is reckless, shameful and downright offensive," Stein said in the statement. "Eligible voters must know this, vote but do not vote twice. It's a felony."
Election leaders use electronic pollbooks at every polling site to show if someone’s already voted absentee. Absentee voters are removed from the pollbooks before voting starts on Election Day, preventing mail-in voters from voting again.
Absentee ballots that are not received until Election Day are not counted until after the election, preventing double voting.
“We’re very confident that we’ll be able to fulfill every absentee ballot request that comes in," said Damon Circosta, Chair of the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
Absentee ballots are processed in advance, but not tabulated until Election Day. If you request an absentee ballot but don’t send it in, you can still vote in person.
State election officials encouraged voters to send in their absentee by mail ballots as early as they feel comfortable. It allows more time for voters to check and see if their ballot has been received through one of the ways listed above, instead of showing up to polling places on Election Day. It also provides additional time for voters to cure any potential deficiencies with a mailed in ballot, such as a signature discrepancy.