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Are solicitations to get absentee ballots legitimate?

Are solicitations to get absentee ballots legitimate?

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Q: My husband and I each received absentee ballot request forms from the “Center for Voter Information.” The forms include a postage paid envelope to return the request. The envelope is addressed to the Forsyth County Board of Elections. We did not request these and want to know if this is legitimate.

A.A.

Answer: We have heard from numerous voters concerned about the legitimacy of such solicitations. The North Carolina Board of Elections says that election officials statewide are responding to “many voters’ questions and concerns about mass mailings, text messages, phone calls and home visits by political and advocacy groups.”

Many of these outreach efforts by third parties urge residents to request absentee by-mail ballots, or to register to vote ahead of the Nov. 3 general election.

Some also include an absentee ballot request form or voter registration application.

“These efforts typically are legal,” according to the state BOE, “but they can be confusing or frustrating for voters and erode confidence in elections, especially when they are unsolicited.”

Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the state BOE, released a statement that state and county boards of elections “encourage third-party groups to consider the overwhelming toll that misleading or confusing mailings and other outreach efforts take on elections resources and the damage they cause to voters’ confidence in elections. We need our elections officials to be focused on serving more than 7 million voters during a pandemic.”

Here are some tips from the state Board of Elections to make sure you are getting legitimate information:

Rely on official sources, especially your state and county elections officials, for accurate information about elections and the voting process. Go to NCSBE.gov or your county board’s website (in Guilford County, www.guilfordcountync.gov/our-county/board-of-elections) for accurate and up-to-date information, and check your voter registration status.

  • Request an absentee ballot from the above sites by downloading a 2020 State Absentee Ballot Request Form. The law has changed to allow request forms to be transmitted to the county board of elections office via fax or email, in addition to by mail or in person.
  • If you have concerns about a mailing, the Board of Elections recommends you contact the group responsible for the mailing. There is rarely anything elections officials can do to stop outreach efforts. State and county elections officials are not associated with third-party groups that send out mass mailings or text messages.
  • Elections officials do not randomly call or text residents, or go door-to-door to encourage them to register to vote or request absentee ballots.
  • Always ask voter registration workers who come to your door to verify their identities and organizations. If someone refuses, call the State Board office at 919-814-0700 and ask for the Investigations Division.
  • Absentee ballots will be mailed to voters who have requested them starting Sept. 4.

— Tim Clodfelter, Lee Newspapers

Email your questions to mike.kernels@greensboro.com. Include Ask a Reporter in the subject field.

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