If you are eligible to vote in North Carolina, you are eligible to vote by mail, with an absentee ballot. You do not need to be living away from North Carolina to do this. No special circumstances are required. Every voter is eligible to vote by absentee ballot.
Note: If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you need to do that first, and in most cases you can register online. Learn how now.
In early June, House Bill 1169 was signed Governor Cooper. That bill passed the N.C. General Assembly with extremely wide bi-partisan support. It made it easier to vote by mail in the November 2020 general election by requiring only one witness. It also made it easier to request an absentee ballot, and made it easier to track the ballot, once submitted. In addition it provided extra money for cybersecurity. The bill received wide, bipartisan support because of the understanding that the public health situation might make voting in person unsafe for some people, and because of a belief in the importance of every voter’s right to cast a ballot.
It’s not too early to be thinking about the general election in November. We don’t know know what the situation will be at that time, and people shouldn’t have to risk their health to exercise their right to vote.
Who is eligible to vote with an absentee ballot in North Carolina?
Here is some information straight from the North Carolina Board of Elections’ page on absentee voting.
- Any North Carolina registered voter who is qualified to vote in an election may request and receive a mail-in absentee ballot for any election in which absentee voting is allowed. All registered voters may request an absentee ballot for the November 2020 general election.
- No special circumstance or reason is needed to receive and vote a mail-in absentee ballot.
- Most voters who want to vote by mail must request a ballot for each election.
- Military or overseas voters have special rights under the Uniform and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). See www.fvap.gov and the Military and Overseas Voters page for more information on military and overseas citizens absentee voting.
To request an absentee ballot, print out this form.
Fill it out. On the last page of the form it has the address for where to send the form, for every county in North Carolina. You can also email it, fax it, or hand deliver it to your county board of elections. If hand-delivered, it must be by the voter, the voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian, or a member of a multipartisan assistance team.
The signed and completed request form must be received by the county board of elections office no later than 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before the date of the election. For the November, 2020, general election, the deadline is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 27th, 2020.
What information do you need in order to request an absentee ballot in North Carolina?
It’s easy to fill out the form. This is all the information you’ll need to share:
- The name and address of the residence of the voter
- The name and address of the voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian if that individual is making the request
- The address of the voter to which the application and absentee ballots are to be mailed if different from the residence address of the voter
- One of the following types of identification numbers for the voter:
- North Carolina driver’s license
- North Carolina special identification card for nonoperators
- last four digits of social security number
- The voter’s date of birth.
- The signature of the voter or of the voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian, if that individual is making the request
- A clear indicator of the date the election generating the request is to be held
- If a voter who is seeking a ballot for a partisan primary is registered as unaffiliated, the political party in whose primary the voter wishes to participate must be identified. This information enables the board of elections to determine which type of ballot to send to the voter.
How do you vote with an absentee ballot?
Normally you’ll need two witnesses, or one witness if the witness is a Notary Public. However, for the November 2020 general election, only one witness is required. In the presence of this witness, mark the ballot. (A witness should not observe so closely that they can see what the voter has marked. They just need to see that the voter is voting the ballot.)
The following individuals are prohibited from serving as a witness on an absentee ballot:
- A person who is under 18
- An individual who is a candidate for nomination or election to such office, unless the voter is the candidate’s near relative
- Additionally, if the voter is a patient or resident of a hospital, clinic, nursing home, or rest home, the following people are also prohibited from serving as a witness on the absentee ballot:
- An owner, manager, director, employee of the hospital, clinic, nursing home, or rest home in which the voter is a patient or resident
- An individual who holds any elective office under the United States, this State, or any political subdivision of this State
- An individual who holds any office in a State, congressional district, county, or precinct political party or organization, or who is a campaign manager or treasurer for any candidate or political party; provided that a delegate to a convention shall not be considered a party office.
Certification of Witnesses and Assistants:
- The voter’s two witnesses (one for November 2020 general election) must, after observing that the voter marking the ballot, complete and sign the envelope in the space designated as Witnesses’ Certification.
- If a voter used the services of a Notary Public as a sole witness, the notary will sign the Notary-Witness Certification.
(A notary is not permitted to charge a fee for witnessing an absentee ballot.)
- Any person who assisted the voter must sign and date the certificate in the proper place on the envelope.
Once you mark the ballot, you need to seal the ballot and document in the container-return envelope and complete the Absentee Application and Certificate on the ballot container-return envelope.
Then you must return it to the address for your county no later than 5 p.m. on Election Day.