‘Your ballot has been spoiled’: Voters who requested absentee ballots getting confusing text messages after voting in person

He said he had shredded his absentee ballot, and voted in person instead.
He said he had shredded his absentee ballot, and voted in person instead.(Gary Bennett)
Updated: Oct. 16, 2020 at 6:15 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Some voters are getting confusing text messages informing them that their ballots have been spoiled.

A Union County man reached out to WBTV after voting early in Waxhaw.

He says he got a text message that said to contact the Union County Board of Elections.

“I went ahead and requested an absentee ballot because I’m 74 years old and I said I could be sick when it’s time for the election, so I’ll hold it in reserve," Gary Bennett told WBTV.

After deciding to vote in-person instead, he put that absentee ballot in the shredder.

Brett Vines with the Union County Board of Elections says several voters got the same message.

“It’s only going to be the people who signed up to track their status," Vines said.

The message is coming from BallotTrax, a tool allowing absentee voters to track the status of their ballot.

In a statement, BallotTrax President Steve Olsen said:

"We are working with the state on this issue already. Our system is receiving a spoiled data code from the State for the in-person status so these voters are receiving a confusing message.

State will be updating messaging to eliminate confusion and hopefully Ballottrax will be able to consume a new status for in-person voters if the State can provide this to us.

These voters need not be concerned as their vote is being counted, but the messaging doesn’t clearly address this."

“A very vague and ambiguous message so I immediately thought huh this sounds fraudulent," Bennett said.

In a statement, a spokesperson from the North Carolina State Board of Elections said:

“With BallotTrax being a brand new service this year, this is one of the things we didn’t consider until it starting happening. It’s being addressed now.”

The spokesperson also said they will be changing the message to say “Your in-person ballot has been accepted and your absentee by mail ballot has been cancelled (spoiled).”

This is a clarification that Bennett says voters deserve.

“It was just some random number, so did it come from the Ukraine or did it come from Union County, I don’t know?" he said.

The Union County Board of Elections also posted an alert on social media to let voters know.

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