By Harley Nefe
In a 5-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court will allow the counting of absentee ballots in North Carolina that are received up to nine days after the election as long as the ballots are postmarked by Election Day on Nov. 3.
Following the news of the extension, North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Wayne Goodwin released the following statement:
“Tonight’s decision from the Supreme Court is a victory for our democracy and the latest repudiation of North Carolina Republicans’ efforts to suppress the will of the voters. Despite the GOP’s efforts to undermine confidence in our process and stop people from participating, North Carolinians are turning out in record numbers, and this ruling ensures that those choosing to vote by mail will have their voices heard just like everyone else.
“I want to thank Attorney General Josh Stein, his staff, and the hardworking men and women at the North Carolina State Board of Elections for their tireless efforts to ensure that every North Carolinian can cast their ballot, even under the challenging circumstances created by this pandemic. North Carolina Democrats will always fight back against voter suppression and work to ensure that everyone in our state has equal access to the ballot box.”
The North Carolina Republican Party also released a statement that says:
“We support Justice Gorsuch’s dissent, which explains how the unelected bureaucrats worked to change state election law during an election at the behest of their Democrat political bosses. If North Carolinians want to live in a state with free and fair elections, they should vote out Governor Roy Cooper, Attorney General Stein, and the radical liberals on the State Supreme Court. In America, the people are the ultimate judge, and this Tuesday, we have the chance to elect solid leadership.”
Voters who receive an absentee ballot by mail may also deliver their completed ballot to an election official at an early voting site in their county. Ballots will be kept securely and delivered to the county board of elections for processing. Voters may not drop their ballots off at a polling place on Election Day. All mailed-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day.
There are two days left in the early voting period for North Carolina, and the latest total number of early-voting ballots cast as of Oct. 28 was 18,750 in Watauga County. This does not include the number of absentee by mail ballots collected.
The early voting location on Appalachian State’s campus remains the busiest location with a total of 5,398 votes cast so far. The Watauga County Administration Building has had 4,407 early voters. Deep Gap is next on the list with 3,259 early voting ballots, followed by the Western Watauga Community Center with 2,348 ballots, Blowing Rock with 2,065 ballots, and Foscoe with 1,273 ballots.
Early voting will continue through Saturday. Statewide, all early voting sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.