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Workers prepare absentee ballots for mailing at the Wake County Board of Elections in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. (AP) Workers prepare absentee ballots for mailing at the Wake County Board of Elections in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. (AP)

Workers prepare absentee ballots for mailing at the Wake County Board of Elections in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. (AP)

Paul Specht
By Paul Specht September 22, 2020

Trump exaggerates North Carolina ballot mishap

If Your Time is short

  • President Trump's tweet suggests a recent ballot mishap in North Carolina is a sign that the election could be "rigged."
  • The Mecklenburg County elections board accidentally sent two absentee ballots to about 500 voters.
  • North Carolina's elections board says the mistake couldn't have tainted the election results because its ballot-counting system doesn't allow individuals to vote more than once.

President Trump believes he sees signs of potential election corruption in North Carolina.

"Just out: Some people in the Great State of North Carolina have been sent TWO BALLOTS. RIGGED ELECTION in waiting!" he tweeted on Thursday.

North Carolina could prove key for Trump in the upcoming election, and he has previously  tweeted questionable information about the state. 

So is this more recent tweet true?

Election officials in Mecklenburg County this week announced that a mixup with the first wave of absentee ballots caused some voters to receive two identical ballots, the Associated Press reported. Fewer than 500 voters were affected, Mecklenburg’s election director Michael Dickerson told the AP.

As for the suggestion that North Carolina’s election could be "rigged," North Carolina’s election director said the state’s ballot management system will not allow a voter to vote twice in an election.

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"Each absentee voter has a unique identifier barcode for their return application, and the state system will not permit two ballots from the same person to be accepted or counted," Karen Brinson Bell said in a statement on Thursday.

"Once one ballot is returned and accepted, the voter’s record reflects that he or she has already voted," she said. "Therefore, if that voter returned another ballot, it would not count.

The state has already processed 88,000 of 817,000 ballots that have been mailed out, she said.

The president’s claim contains an element of truth: an elections board sent two ballots to about 500 voters. But it ignores some very important context: North Carolina election officials say their ballot-counting system doesn’t allow an individual’s quote to be counted twice.

That means this type of mistake is very unlikely to alter or "rig" the election, as Trump suggests.

So we rate this claim Mostly False.

Our Sources

Tweet by President Donald Trump on Sept. 17, 2020.

Story by the Associated Press, "Some North Carolina voters mistakenly get 2 absentee ballots," published Sept. 16, 2020.

Statement by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, "On the Mecklenburg County ballot issue," released Sept. 17, 2020.

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Trump exaggerates North Carolina ballot mishap

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