This article and the accompanying image were originally published by The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and are republished here as part of the One Vote North Carolina student media collaboration. Copyright by The Daily Tar Heel.
Those voting in North Carolina for the November election shouldn't vote twice, according to a Thursday press release from the N.C. Board of Elections.
President Donald Trump visited Wilmington on Sept. 2 to commemorate the city as an American World War II Heritage City. At the event, he said North Carolinians should test the voting system by both submitting an absentee ballot and attempting to vote in person.
“Let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote," he said at the event. "If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote,” Trump said.
However, voting twice is illegal in North Carolina. In accordance with state law, attempting to vote twice or encouraging someone to do so is a Class I felony.
This preexisting law directly contradicts the president’s comments, creating confused voters and an increase in predicted workload for polling staff.
In response to the president’s statement, Karen Brinson Bell, the executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, released a message reminding voters of the law.
In the press release, Bell said voters can check the status of their absentee ballot by contacting their county board of elections, using the State Board's Voter Search Tool or signing up for BallotTrax, a newly created service that ensures accurate tracking of voter ballots.
"The State Board conducts audits after each election that check voter history against ballots cast and would detect if someone tries to vote more than once in an election," Bell said in the release.
Ferrel Guillory, a professor at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said if people vote twice in the election, it could cause confusion for poll workers.
"It could increase the work of the poll workers at the voting sites on Election Day with people showing up simply to check on whether their early votes were cast or not," he said.
Guillory said it's important that voters comply with their state's voting procedures.
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“Democracy is about a participatory process, so the rules and the procedure matter,” he said.
Jamie Cox, chairperson of the Orange County Board of Elections, said voters don't need to worry about their vote not counting.
“There are safeguards in place to make sure that those who choose to vote by mail are able to do so safely and securely," Cox said. "All qualified ballots by mail will be counted. There is really no reason to vote twice to test the system, because we have preliminary measures in place."
The safeguards include electronic poll books at every early voting site across the state, which detail who has already voted, according to Bell's press release. Those who have already voted absentee will be prevented from voting with a regular ballot, but they will be given a provisional ballot if they insist.
Before voting starts on Election Day at 6:30 a.m., absentee voters will be removed from the poll book.
The regular voter registration period ends Oct. 9, and absentee ballot requests are available until Oct. 27 at 5 p.m.
Registered voters in North Carolina can request an absentee ballot online at the N.C. Board of Elections website.
For more election coverage from across North Carolina, visit One Vote North Carolina, a collaborative of The Chronicle and six other student newspapers that aims to help college students across the state navigate the November election.