The North Carolina State Board of Elections just launched BallotTrax, an online tool where voters can enter their information, check the status of their absentee by mail ballot application, see where the ballot is in the mailing process, and confirm if it's been received by local board of elections officials.
"I think overall it’s going to give a stronger sense of trust in the voting process," said Emma Tate, Director of Elections for Pasquotank County. "A peace of mind that they can physically, tangibly see what their ballot is doing at all times."
Tate said BallotTrax will help assure voters who are new to absentee by mail voting. North Carolina election officials previously reported that more than 618,000 people have already applied to vote by mail in the November 2020 election.
The new program - which works like a pizza delivery or package tracker - is one of many election changes designed to ease voting during the coronavirus pandemic. North Carolina also recently added an online portal for absentee by mail ballot requests.
Voters can also call their local board of elections to check on the status of their absentee by mail ballot, and BallotTrax can be used to send alerts and notify voters if anything is wrong with their ballot - such as a signature discrepancy.
“We didn’t have anything like [BallotTrax] before, it was basically you trusted that it got here and that it was going to come back," said Tate.
Virginia has a similar ballot tracking tool. However, unlike North Carolina which started sending out absentee by mail ballots on September 4, Virginia registrars will start sending out absentee by ballots this Friday, September 18.
Currently, Virginia voters can see if their ballot is being "prepared for mailing," and then after Friday, they can track it in the mail through Virginia's online ballot tracking program.
As of September 14, the Currituck County Board of Elections reported receiving more than 1,000 requests for absentee ballots. In the 2016 election, Currituck received a total of 366 absentee ballot requests
The Pasquotank County Board of Elections reports a nearly 500% increase on absentee ballot requests, from 494 in 2016 to more than 2,000 and counting now.