Some North Carolina voters are complaining that their absentee ballots have not been sent to them, have not been received by their county’s Board of Elections, or have been rejected altogether.

David Allen, a graduate student at Duke University, said in an email that he requested an absentee ballot from Cleveland County on February 19. As of today, he hasn’t received it. 

“I have done this several times over the past six years (undergrad + graduate school), and never had any issues until this year,” Allen said.

Some students and recent graduates who are temporarily housed out-of-state describe similar issues. Matthew Pertz, a senior at Columbia University, received his Wake County ballot after a six-week waiting period and three calls to the county Board of Elections.

“They said, ‘We can see that you filed the request, but we sent you the ballot, so give it a while, and if it doesn’t show up, call again,’” Pertz says. “And it took two more calls before I was finally passed along to someone who could send me another absentee ballot.”

The second time Pertz requested a ballot, he says he received it in days.

The State Board of Elections told the INDY that it hadn’t heard of an unusual number of missing absentee ballots.

“There were changes to the absentee voting process,” says Patrick Gannon, the communications director for the NCSBE. “If those processes weren’t followed, that could be another reason they didn’t get their ballot.”

In October, the General Assembly changed absentee voting requirements following an election fraud scandal in the 9th Congressional District. Voters can no longer email or fax their absentee ballot requests. Instead, they have to be sent through the U.S. Postal Service or requested in-person by the voter or a voter’s near relative.

Durham County, Wake County, and Orange County representatives say that once the ballots are delivered to the USPS, it’s out of their hands.

“We mail them, they’re sent through the U.S. mail, and once they go into the mail, we have no control over when they’re delivered,” says Terry Young, deputy director of the Orange County Board of Elections. 

If ballots are not postmarked on or before Election Day, the absentee ballot will not be  accepted by the Board of Elections.

Gannon says that he does not know of a way around that.

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