Local Politics

Deployed military can email, fax, mail ballots back to NC

Posted November 6, 2020 7:13 p.m. EST

— As votes continue to be counted across North Carolina and the country, the process of collecting and counting absentee ballots from service members overseas is a bit different.

Requests for military absentee ballots doubled this year across North Carolina when compared with 2016. So far, more than 9,700 have been processed statewide, including more than 1,800 in Cumberland County.

"We send the voter a ballot based on the method they request it," Cumberland County elections director Terri Robertson said, noting service members can get a ballot by email, fax or through an online portal in addition to regular mail.

If mailed, ballots are sent to APO processing centers, such as one in Kuwait where 2LT Daii Gardner works.

"Social distancing was one of the bigger [issues this year]," said Gardner, an Army postal officer. "Wearing masks and actually having that spacing that allowed the voter to safely conduct their voting while sitting in the facility [was difficult]."

If a service member emailed or faxed a ballot back to the U.S., it needed to be received by Tuesday. Otherwise, mailed absentee ballots can be accepted until Nov. 12, provided they were postmarked by Election Day or the service member wrote the date and time it was mailed – on or before Nov. 3 – on the back of the envelope.

"If it comes back to us anything other than through the mail, where we've mailed them an actual ballot and received that ballot back, we have to duplicate those ballots so they can be read by the [vote tabulation] machines," Robertson said.

Spc. Natasha Washington said being able to cast a ballot overseas is special.

"Soldiers want to know their voices are heard as well," Washington said. "We're not home. We can't just walk in and go vote somewhere, so it's just nice to have a station here that provides us to be able to vote."

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