GREENSBORO, N.C. — With Election Day fast approaching, one of the biggest questions at hand is how secure is absentee by-mail voting in the midst of a global pandemic keeping several away from polling stations this year.
According to the NC Board Of Elections, many safeguards are included in the absentee voting process. Absentee ballots are sent only to registered voters who request them using an official North Carolina Absentee Ballot Request Form.
That request must be signed and include information about the voter, including date of birth and driver’s license number or the last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number. Voters must also vote their ballot in the presence of a witness, then that witness must sign the absentee return envelope certifying that the voter marked their ballot and is the registered voter submitting the marked ballot.
Also, only the voter or their close relative or legal guardian can return the ballot. Once received, the county board of elections reviews the absentee envelope to ensure compliance with the legal requirements. Once the ballot is accepted, that voter is marked in the system as having voted in the election.
Information on who has requested absentee ballots is now confidential until Election Day. Criminal penalties have been increased for absentee voting fraud-related offenses. Many people are watching our absentee voting process, including candidates, political parties, county boards of elections, and political and data scientists. If there are anomalies or questionable activities, they will be reported to election officials.
Lastly, the State Board of Elections has an Investigations Division that investigates credible allegations of elections fraud and refers cases to prosecutors when warranted by the evidence. The State Board also conducts several post-election audits which will catch inconsistencies that can then be investigated by the board or our Investigations Division.