Election officials say the absentee voting system in Boone County won’t allow you to vote twice, even though some people have tried.
President Donald Trump told a Wilmington, North Carolina, TV reporter that voters who cast a ballot by mail should go ahead and go to the polls on election day to make sure their vote had been tabulated. If not, they could vote on election day.
In Arkansas, the absentee system is under fairly tight control.
During the primary runoff election in March, with public facilities locking down amid the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Asa Hutchinson waived the requirement that voters could only vote by absentee ballot due to illness, physical disability or the voter being unavoidably absent, dubbed no-excuse absentee voting. That was to help avoid long voter lines when social gathering limitations were set.
Then, in early July, Hutchinson announced that Secretary of State John Thurston had interpreted the law naming illness as an excuse for an absentee ballot to mean concern over the COVID-19 pandemic. That means there will be no excuse needed for an absentee ballot.
When a voter applies for an absentee ballot, it is mailed to them from the Boone County Clerk’s Office. Deputy clerk Penny Goodman said the information is logged when the application is received and when it is mailed as well.
Once the clerk’s office receives that returned ballot, it is also logged. Election officials will be able to process everything in the absentee packet for two weeks prior to election day, with the exception of the actual ballot. Absentee ballots can’t be tabulated until election day.
If a voter has cast an absentee ballot and tries to vote either early or on election day, their name is noted in the electronic poll books that poll workers use when checking voters in.
Election coordinator Beckie Benton said there was at least one instance in which a voter cast a ballot at an open poll on election day, then went to the Election Center to “test” the system to see if it would be possible to vote twice. The poll books identified that the voter in question had cast a ballot a few minutes earlier at another open poll.
For people concerned about the use of the U.S. Postal Service, Goodman said local Post Office officials say they are going to make every effort to make sure Boone County election mail does not leave the local Post Office for processing. The envelope containing the ballot mailed to voters will be stamped with “BALLOT” and the return envelope is also marked much the same way.
The idea of no-excuse absentee voting is to limit foot traffic at individual polling places on election day and at the Election Center for early voting. So, going to the polls after voting absentee defeats that purpose, officials agree.