Monitoring Voter Suppression Efforts In North Carolina
The number of voter intimidation incidents at the polls in Guilford County has died down considerably since the opening days of early voting. But more subtle voter suppression efforts continue like rejecting ballots and limiting access. And with so much riding on the outcome in North Carolina, legal maneuvering meant to bypass the results is ramping up all across the state. Elections Reporter for Carolina Public Press Jordan Wilkie spoke with WFDD’s David Ford about what it all means for voters.
On legal maneuvers meant to bypass election results:
Well, nationally, people who track this have shown that this year already is a record-breaking year for the number of lawsuits filed related to elections. I mean, North Carolina certainly seems right up there. We do know that the North Carolina GOP has put in records requests to see every absentee by mail envelope and in every county. They have not followed up with every county. But, for example, they have followed up in Durham and looked through many thousands of the absentee by mail envelopes to see which ballots are being accepted, which are being rejected. And it seems like, you know, that is a step that one would take in preparation for litigation over which ballots were accepted, which should have been cured or rejected outright.
On absentee ballots:
If folks are interested in finding out the status of their absentee by mail ballot, they can go on Carolina Public Press. We have an elections page, and on that page we have a tool that you can access that is sort of like a quiz. You take the quiz, you say where you are in the process, and at the end it'll say, all right, here are your next steps. The easiest thing to do is to call your county board of elections and say, hey, where's my absentee ballot at? What do I need to do? The rule is that within 24 hours, if there's a problem with an absentee by mail ballot, the county board of elections needs to contact the voter. What we've seen is about two percent of absentee by mail ballots that are returned — at this point, I think close to 180,000 — about two percent have had some sort of issue that needed to be cured or those ballots need to be spoiled, and the people need to issue a new ballot. So, that's a relatively low amount and it's even lower when we think about the fact that people can cure those ballots. And when they cure that, that ultimately the number of ballots that are counted is closer to 99 percent.
On the timeline for declaring a presidential election winner:
So, regarding the absentee by mail ballots, there's been a pretty clear narrative from the president on down to our state representatives where they've said, you know, on election night, we should know the results. And that has never in the history of elections in this country and any place been true. Election night results are unofficial; they’re reported by the media. No place in this country has official results on election night. But again, because a lot of these absentee by mail ballots are sort of an indication of someone's political party — since Democrats are using absentee by mail process to vote more often — if people want to say results on election night will stand, those results are more likely to favor Republican candidates. And so, we see this strategy of trying to undermine the legitimacy of absentee by mail voting, especially the ballots that are counted after Election Day.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This transcript was lightly edited for clarity.