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Forsyth County mails out first absentee ballots for fall contests

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The Forsyth County Board of Elections mailed out its first batch of 300 absentee ballots early Friday afternoon, in what elections director Tim Tsujii called “pretty typical” volume compared to numbers driven higher by coronavirus concerns in 2020.

Friday was the first day that elections officials could mail out absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 general election, which will decide contests from a U.S. Senate seat representing North Carolina to soil and water conservation board members.

“2020 was a unique election year with the pandemic,” Tsujii said. “We don’t anticipate seeing those kinds of figures.”

Tsujii did say that the number of absentee ballots mailed out could reach 500 by the end of the day Friday, with another 2,500 requests in line for processing. People have until Nov. 1 to ask for an absentee ballot.

More than 40,000 people cast absentee ballots by mail in 2020, a year in which the COVID-19 pandemic caused a relaxation of the typical rule requiring two witnesses to sign an absentee ballot for it to be considered valid.

That year, one signature was enough, but Tsujii said the normal two-signature requirement comes back this year. People can have a ballot notarized as an alternative to getting two signatures.

Absentee ballots count if they are back to the county elections board by Election Day, or if they are postmarked be Election Day and get back to the elections office by Nov. 14, the first Monday after the election.

The Friday after the election is the normal deadline for ballots to return that were postmarked by Election Day, but the observance of Veterans Day then pushes back the deadline.

However, the N.C. Republican Party has filed suit objecting to that deadline extension as not being legal.

Election officials say an absentee ballot can be requested by a voter, a near relative or a legal guardian. Special procedures apply to rest homes and similar institutions, which can ask for help from the elections office in helping voters cast their ballots.

State election officials said Thursday that 53,000 people had asked for absentee ballots from across the state. Meanwhile, Tsujii said local election officials have been testing election equipment to make sure everything works properly when voting starts.

Here are some other important dates to keep in mind as the start of voting approaches:

* Oct. 14 is the deadline for getting voter registration forms postmarked or delivered to the elections office, in order to vote on Election Day. People who miss this deadline can vote only during the early-voting period.

* Oct. 20, a Thursday, is the first day of early voting.

* Nov. 1 is the last day to request an absentee ballot.

* Nov. 5, a Saturday, is the last day of early voting.

* On Nov. 8, Election Day, polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

The N.C. State Board of Elections has an absentee ballot portal online at votebymail.ncsbe.gov/app/home that has several options for voters. People can request an absentee ballot, get services for military and overseas voters, view sample ballots and get help for visually impaired voters.

336-727-7369

@wyoungWSJ

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