North Carolina absentee mail-in voting guide


Tribune News Service

Absentee voting manager Matt Kelly holds the ballot envelopes that will be used to mail ballots at the Franklin County Board of Elections office in Columbus on July 29. The two-key system ensures no one political party will have access to ballots alone. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Veronica Wernicke, News Editor

Due to concerns about health and safety, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) at the polls this upcoming election season, more and more Americans are considering absentee mail-in voting. 

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that about 65% of Americans support absentee voting, especially given worries of the COVID-19 virus. The survey also found that Democrats are more likely to support it than Republicans. 

All registered voters in N.C. are eligible to request and receive an absentee mail-in ballot for elections. Absentee mail-in ballots allow voters to vote at home and send in their ballot in order to avoid making a trip to polling stations on voting day. 

N.C. is one of the many states that allows any registered voter to request an absentee mail-in ballot without needing an excuse.

Over 43,000 N.C. voters have already requested absentee mail-in ballots for the 2020 general election according to public records data from the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE).

For those that have not and would like to, there are several steps needed to be taken in order to request an absentee mail-in ballot.

Firstly, residents must be registered to vote, the deadline to register in N.C. is Oct. 9. Voter registration can be completed by filling out a voter registration form and returning it to the applicable county board of elections office or filling out the online application.   

Once registered to vote, N.C. residents can request an absentee ballot for any upcoming elections, by filling out the State Absentee Ballot Request Form — forms can be filled out by the individual voter or near relative or legal guardian. 

The NCSBE’s website also noted that by Sept. 1 an online request portal will become available.  

After filling out the form, the individual or near relative or legal guardian needs to return it to the applicable county board of elections by 5 P.M. on Oct. 27  — the addresses for each respective office can be found at the bottom of the form. Completed forms can be emailed, faxed, or delivered in person to the office.

However, amid concerns of United States Postal Service (USPS) slowdowns and delays — the mail carrier service which handles the ballots — is urging voters to request and send back ballots at least 15 days before election day on Nov. 3 in order to ensure their vote is counted. 

Absentee ballots will begin to be mailed out on Sept. 4. 

After receiving an absentee mail-in ballot, voters must fill out and sign it in the presence of a witness who must also sign the ballot. Completed ballots must be received by the NCSBE office no later than 5 P.M. on Nov. 3.

More information, including a FAQ sheet, about how to complete and return your absentee ballot ahead of election day can be found on the NCSBE’s website.