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The rules, issued last week in a settlement with voting rights advocates, were blocked by a temporary restraining order issued Saturday by U.S. District Judge James Dever, who raised concerns about changing rules after numerous ballots have already been cast. Saturday’s decision comes amid a tangle of litigation in state and federal court over absentee ballots in the key presidential battleground.

On Friday, the N.C. State Board of Elections's remaining three members voted to waive their attorney-client privilege on the settlement. That allowed the official minutes of the previously secret settlement discussions and previously confidential memos from the board's legal staff, and lawyers from Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein's office, to be released to the public.

A lack of a witness signature or other witness information has emerged as the leading cause of ballots being set aside before being counted in North Carolina, with problems disproportionately affecting Black voters in the state, according to an Associated Press analysis of state election data.

  • Updated

Yes. For the 2020 general election, only one witness is required. The voter is required to mark the ballot in the presence of the witness, but the witness shouldn’t be able to see how the voter votes. Instructions will come with your absentee ballot. The witness must be an adult and can’t be a candidate (unless the voter is a near relative). Precautions can be taken because of COVID-19, such as the witness observing through a window or at a distance of greater than 6 feet, and both people wearing masks.

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There are multiple security measures on absentee ballots. In North Carolina, absentee ballots are sent only to registered voters who request them using an official request form. The request must be signed and include the required identifying information.

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