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Court ruling delays absentee ballots

Wednesday’s ruling by the N.C. Supreme Court paused the preparation of ballots for the Nov. 6 general election as a result of legal challenges to proposed constitutional amendments.

State law requires absentee-by-mail ballots be available 60 days before an election, which in this case would have been Friday. However, court action has effectively delayed the start of absentee voting this year, and ballots will not be ready by then. Under federal law, ballots must be available 45 days before an election, or Sept. 22.

It takes about three weeks to prepare, print, test and deliver ballots to counties across the state. In order to meet the federal deadline, that process should have started by today. The State Board of Elections staff is exploring additional options to ensure federal compliance if delays continue.

A three-judge panel recently found that the state’s 13 congressional districts reflected unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders and asked the parties to address how and when congressional elections may occur this year.

As the legal process unfolds, the State Board office will provide information via news releases available at ncsbe.gov.

“We will provide detailed information to the public about the constitutional amendments and North Carolina’s 2018 congressional elections as soon as possible,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, State Board executive director.