While New York State has launched its startlingly insecure portal to allow residents to request absentee ballots, the state of North Carolina on Friday has truly kicked off the election by mailing out the first ballots to more than 618,000 voters who requested them (already more than 3x the 190,000 who voted by mail in NC in 2016)
The ballots going out marks the beginning of an 8 week sprint to November, and the grand experiment with mass mail-in voting that is unfolding, to one degree or another, in every state across the country. Over the next two weeks, ballots should start arriving, and voters will fill them out and mail them back, or drop them off at their local election office.
President Trump drew attention to North Carolina's ballots earlier this week when he urged voters to fill out their absentee ballots then try voting in person to "Test the system". Trump's words set off a firestorm in the mainstream press as reporters accused him of breaking federal election-tampering laws by inciting his supporters to vote twice in a critical swing state.
For years, Donald Trump has lied about "voter fraud." Now he proceeds to tell the people of North Carolina to commit a felony by voting twice. This is not a president who believes in democracy. He is an authoritarian who must be defeated.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) September 3, 2020
The state's board of elections even issued a statement informing voters that "it's illegal to vote twice".
"It is illegal to vote twice in an election," the executive director of North Carolina's state elections board says in a statement after the president of the United States encourages people to try to vote twice to test the system. pic.twitter.com/9KsVqVj4P3— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) September 3, 2020
Even Twitter tried to censor Trump's comments.
Based on the massive number of Unsolicited & Solicited Ballots that will be sent to potential Voters for the upcoming 2020 Election, & in order for you to MAKE SURE YOUR VOTE COUNTS & IS COUNTED, SIGN & MAIL IN your Ballot as EARLY as possible. On Election Day, or Early Voting,..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2020
.....go to your Polling Place to see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted). If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly. If it has not been Counted, VOTE (which is a citizen’s right to do). If your Mail In Ballot arrives....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2020
....after you Vote, which it should not, that Ballot will not be used or counted in that your vote has already been cast & tabulated. YOU ARE NOW ASSURED THAT YOUR PRECIOUS VOTE HAS BEEN COUNTED, it hasn’t been “lost, thrown out, or in any way destroyed”. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2020
North Carolina has become a critical swing state, and both campaigns are aggressively courting its 15 electoral votes.
According to CNN, a combined $32 million has been spent on television ads in the state, split evenly between the two campaigns. The Trump campaign says it has knocked on more than 425,000 doors and called more than 4.7 million voters in the state, and polls show that the race has no clear leader in the state.