There are plenty of reasons to vote absentee by mail (ABM) in North Carolina this year: The coronavirus is still rampant in communities across our state; The long lines at polling places that are forecasted due to record high turnout. Just to name two. Are you sure you know how to properly cast your ballot this election? Here you will find a short, sweet and to the point collection of tips and links to help you cast your absentee ballot in North Carolina.
1. Find out if you are registered to vote in North Carolina
There are several ways to check your status as a voter in North Carolina. The easiest is to head to the North Carolina voter lookup tool. Enter your name, address and year of birth and search for your registration. If you do not see your registration, head to the North Carolina Board of Elections How-To page and follow the instructions.
2. Request an Absentee by Mail ballot
Once you have checked your registration and you are registered to vote you can request your ABM ballot. In North Carolina only the voter or a voter’s near relative (spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, or sibling, or an in-law) can request the absentee ballot on behalf of the voter. This means those mail stuffer, pre-filled absentee ballots will not be accepted by your Board of Elections. To request your ballot print and fill out this form. It is important to note, you need your driver’s license OR social security number. You do not have to have both. After completing the form you can return your request any of three ways:
1. Through the USPS to your local board of elections
2. Hand-delivered by you (the voter) or a near-relative to your local board of elections
3. Scan the completed document and send via e-mail to your local board of elections.
If you are requesting your ballot this late it may be best to e-mail your request form to facilitate the quickest response.
Next you will have to flex your patience muscle. Yes, I know you are excited to participate in democracy. But, you just have to wait. Oh look! Your absentee ballot came in the mail!
4. Vote your ballot!
The time has come, cast your vote for whomever you decide. I’m not judging. In North Carolina you are required to have a witness to your absentee ballot. This witness can be anyone over the age of 18 who is not running for office. Once you have your witness, open up your ballot. The ballot has two sides, make sure you complete both. Use a dark blue or black pen and fill in the squares completely. After you have voted for every office, fold your completed ballot and place it in the envelope provided. Next, you will need your witness again. On the outside of the envelope provide, sign where the voter’s signature is requested. Then, pass the ballot to your witness. The witness will need to fill in their address, then print and sign their name. Finally, you can seal the envelope!
5. Return your ballot
There are only 3 ways to return your absentee ballot in North Carolina. You can return the ballot in person to your local board of elections, you can return the ballot in-person at any early voting polling place during early voting hours, or as the name suggests you can mail the ballot in to your local board of elections. All of the addressing and labelling is done for you by the board of elections all you have to do is attach a stamp and send it through the mail.
6. Receive updates and track your ballot
You can track your ballot all the way from the time you request it using BallotTrax. This is a new tool being utilized in North Carolina that helps voters track their ballot from start to finish. Follow this link and enter your information. Opt-in for email updates and you are set to go. BallotTrax will update you via email when your ballot is sent, or received by your local board of elections.
Have more questions?
Don’t worry there are plenty of people out there to answer your questions. You can call the voter protection hotline at 1-833-VOTE4NC (868-3462) or you can go online to IWillVote.com. If you want to get involved with me and the other voter protection volunteers this election head on over to this survey!