State Watch

Black North Carolina voters' mail-in ballots rejected at twice the rate as White voters: report

Black North Carolina voters are seeing their ballots rejected at twice the rate of white residents in North Carolina, a study by a University of Florida (UF) elections expert reported.

Black voters in the state are seeing around 4 percent of ballots rejected. Voter advocates say this is because a higher proportion of Black voters are voting by mail for the first time, leading to minor mistakes that nullify votes.

The data was collected by the U.S. Elections Project and managed by Michael McDonald, a UF professor who specializes in American elections.

The race of voters is disclosed in the data because voters can list their race when registering in North Carolina.

Elections officials report the three most common mistakes leading to ballot rejection are omitted signatures, lack of a witness signature, or blank address lines, according to Bloomberg.

T. Anthony Spearman, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, told Bloomberg that African Americans had favored voting in person in past elections, adding for many "this is their first time" voting by mail.

"These mistakes are prone to happen," Spearman said.

Anyone who has their ballot rejected will be notified and given the opportunity to make corrections, elections officials said. Around 55 percent of ballots that have been received came from Democrats, and 16 percent came from Republicans.

Hilary Harris Klein, an attorney with the voting rights group Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said despite the ability to rectify invalidated ballots, "There is cause for concern when you look at the racial disparity."

North Carolina started mailing ballots to voters on Sept. 4 and received more than 198,000 returned through Thursday morning, according to figures from the election board.

Nearly 1 million of North Carolina's 7.2 million registered voters have requested vote-by-mail ballots, marking 12 times the amount from late September 2016, the Board of Elections reported.

 

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