Updated: Oct 29
State and Federal Courts of Appeal allowed the NC State Board of Elections to settle a lawsuit brought by a group of elderly voters seeking changes to absentee voting rules after both sides agreed with Republican demands that absentee ballots missing a witness signature would have to be resubmitted. Voters with problem absentee ballots, including thousands held in limbo because of the lawsuit, will now be contacted by county boards of election offices in time to fix their ballots by Election Day. Under the agreed upon guidelines, ballots can be fixed by certification if the voter did not sign the return envelope, the voter signed in the wrong place, the witness or assistant did not print their name or address, or the witness or assistant signed on the wrong line. However, the ballot will be canceled and a new ballot issued if the witness failed to sign, the envelope arrived at the county office unsealed, or the voter requested a replacement ballot.
The final date on which the NC State Board of Elections can accept and count a ballot that is postmarked by Election Day remains unclear. In a 12-3 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that NC mail-in ballots could be accepted through November 12, appearing to settle the long-running dispute over several rules changes intended to make voting easier during the pandemic. But on Thursday, at the instigation of the three dissenting Circuit Court justices, Republican state legislators appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, demanding a November 6 ballot receipt deadline. The high court instructed the other parties in the case to file responses by Saturday afternoon. The Trump campaign also filed a separate appeal asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block recent rules issued by the NC State Board of Elections for fixing errors in absentee ballots.