The North Carolina GOP office that was recently firebombed might have been doing something they shouldn’t have. North Carolina Republican Party spokeswoman Emily Weeks informed NBC that among the materials destroyed in the fire may have been a number of completed absentee ballots.
The problem for her and the NC GOP is this happens to be against North Carolina’s election rules. It’s explained in detail on their website:
Once the Absentee Application and Certificate is fully executed with all relevant signatures, the voted ballot (contained inside of the container-return envelope) must be returned to the county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the date of the election. The envelope may be mailed or delivered in person to the board of elections’ office. Only the voter or the voter’s near relative (spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, stepchild or qualified legal guardian) may deliver an absentee ballot in person.
Director of the Orange County Board of Elections, Tracy Ream, confirmed that this was against the rules. Ream explained that there would be no valid reason for the office or any other facility like it to be collecting completed ballots, due to the fact that they have to be returned by the voter or their “near relative” as mentioned in the rules above. Ream also confirmed that the the board of elections had not sent any blank absentee ballots to the office in question, which only complicates things further. What were they doing these things if they had them?
If people had obtained blank ballots at the office, they might have been under the mistaken impression to return them there. However, the office was never sent blank ballots. They could have been a mass amount of unrelated accidental returns, but that is highly unlikely. If the office was actively encouraging this, or going around and somehow collecting them, it could be a lot worse.
If this turns out to be true and not a case where another Republican “misspoke” after getting caught saying something they shouldn’t have, it’s anyone’s guess where this story will go from there.
UPDATE: The original source for this article amended it’s previous report to reflect the fact no absentee ballots were being stored on the premises. It was not noted if this was a misspoken statement by the original party official or some other error that caused the incorrect report, but we felt it appropriate to set the record straight.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article quoted a party official as saying completed absentee ballots might have been destroyed in the attack on the Orange County Republican Party office, which was incorrect. The North Carolina Republican Party and its county organizations do not collect completed absentee ballots.