“We thought we had destroyed everything, pulled everything they had in front of them and reprinted the batch,” Mavromatis said. But some of the ballots made it into the mail, resulting in fewer than 500 voters getting two ballots, she said.
That doesn’t mean voters will be able to cast two ballots, which if done intentionally is a felony in North Carolina.
“In North Carolina, all absentees are considered provisional — they’re not counted until verified,” Mavromatis said.
In a Thursday statement, the executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Karen Brinson Bell, said each absentee voter has a unique identifier code to keep them from being counted multiple times.
“Once one ballot is returned and accepted, the voter’s record reflects that he or she has already voted,” Brinson Bell said. “Therefore, if that voter returned another ballot, it would not count.”
About 114,000 ballots have been mailed out so far in Mecklenberg County, Mavromatis said, and 11,000 voters have already returned their ballots. Brinson Bell said about 817,000 ballots have been mailed out across the state.
The president’s response to the error in North Carolina comes as millions of Americans worried about the spread of the coronavirus plan to vote by mail, and as Trump has ramped up accusations, without evidence, that expanded mail-in voting will lead to corruption, miscounting and delays.
In a statement sent earlier this month, Brinson Bell reminded voters it is “illegal to vote twice in an election.”
A day later, Trump encouraged North Carolina supporters to vote in person, even if their mail-in ballots were on the way, saying, “They’ll lose your vote.”
Brinson Bell in her statement cited a North Carolina statute that makes it a Class I felony for a voter to cast multiple ballots. It is also a violation of state law to solicit someone to vote twice. She noted the state board has investigators who review any double voting allegations.
The Sept. 3 statement followed comments from the president that same week suggesting his supporters attempt to vote multiple times, though he later sought to clarify the suggestion, tweeting that he had meant for voters to follow up at a polling place in person after voting by mail.
In the statement, Brinson Bell discouraged voters from just that.
“The State Board office strongly discourages people from showing up at the polls on Election Day to check whether their absentee ballot was counted,” she said. “That is not necessary, and it would lead to longer lines and the possibility of spreading COVID-19.”
The president has assailed voting by mail for weeks, repeatedly attempting to dispute the integrity of the mail-in system. He claimed in another tweet Thursday that the November election will go unresolved because of the “massive” number of ballots being sent to voters. Twitter added a label to the post, calling it “a potentially misleading statement regarding the process of mail-in voting.”
Less than half an hour after Trump’s tweet about the North Carolina ballot mix-up, and after another post arguing unsolicited ballots are “totally open to ELECTION INTERFERENCE,” the president’s Twitter account called on supporters to request an absentee ballot or to vote early.