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Judge orders North Carolina to revise absentee ballot rules

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal judge on Wednesday ordered North Carolina elections officials to update absentee voting rules to ensure that voters prove they have had someone witness their ballot.

Judge William Osteen issued a preliminary injunction ordering state officials to rewrite a directive issued in late September that allowed voters to fix a lack of a witness signature by returning an affidavit. However, he said he wouldn’t block that kind of fix for small errors such as an incomplete witness address.

Ballots with incomplete witness info and other deficiencies have been in limbo since at least Oct. 3, under instructions from the state board to set them aside and take no further action pending court rulings.

And a higher court could weigh in. The state elections board had already asked the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene at an earlier stage of the case.

The state board had developed the procedure to let voters fix witness problems by signing an affidavit in response to a separate legal challenge by voting rights advocates in state court.

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