What you need to know to vote absentee in North Carolina
- 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.
- No special circumstance or reason is needed to receive and vote a mail-in absentee ballot.
- For non-military/overseas voters, an absentee ballot must be requested for each election in which a voter desires to vote absentee by-mail.
- 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.
Who may Request an Absentee Ballot?
- To receive a mail-in absentee ballot for an election, a voter or the voter’s near relative (spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild) or legal guardian must use the State Absentee Ballot Request Form to request the ballot.
Assistance Requesting an Absentee Ballot
- Voters who are blind or disabled, or who cannot read or write may receive assistance in completing the request form.
- If the assistance is provided by someone other than a near relative or legal guardian, that person’s name and address must be listed on the State Absentee Ballot Request Form.
Returning the Absentee Ballot Request Form
- Completed request forms may only be delivered to the county board of elections by one of the following:
- the voter
- the voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian
- a member of a multipartisan assistance team (MAT) Page
- U.S. Postal Service or designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f).
- Forms returned by any other person will not be processed.
- Forms cannot be faxed or emailed.
- A signed and completed State Absentee Ballot Request Form must be received by the county board of elections office no later than 5:00 PM on the Tuesday prior to the date of the election for which the ballot is being requested.
- Requests that are received after the absentee request deadline will not be deemed timely, regardless of any postmark date.
- Requests forms that are delivered by the deadline to the State Board will be considered timely. In the interest of ensuring that county boards of elections are able to promptly process voters’ absentee requests, we strongly recommend that forms be submitted to the appropriate county board of elections.
2020 Deadlines for Requesting an Absentee Ballot
- March Primary Election: Tuesday, February 25, 2020 by 5 p.m.
- April Second Primary Election (Non-Federal): Tuesday, April 14, 2020 by 5 p.m.
- May Second Primary Election (Federal): Tuesday, May 5, 2020 by 5 p.m.
- November General Election: Tuesday, October 27, 2020 by 5 p.m.
Invalid Absentee Ballot Requests
- A request for absentee ballots is not valid if any of the following apply:
- The completed written request is not on the State Absentee Ballot Request Form.
- The completed written request is completed, partially or in whole, or signed by anyone other than the voter, the voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian, or a MAT member.
- The written request does not contain all of the required information.
- The completed written request is returned to the county board by someone who is not authorized to return the request.
Copying & Distributing Absentee Ballot Request Forms
- It is permissible to make copies of the Absentee Ballot Request Form for distribution.
- It is not permissible for candidates, campaigns, individuals or groups to create their own absentee ballot request form.
- When completing the State Absentee Ballot Request Form the following information is required:
- 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.
Military & Overseas Voters
- Registered North Carolina voters (including his or her eligible dependents) absent due to military service or currently overseas may also complete the State Absentee Ballot Request Form to receive special absentee voting protections.
- Additional information for military and overseas voters is available on the State Board of Elections website or the website of the Federal Voting Assistance Program.
- In the presence of two witnesses (or one witness if the witness is a Notary Public), the voter should mark the ballot, or if the voter is unable to mark the ballot, shall cause it to be marked according to the voter’s instructions.
- A witness should not observe so closely that they are able to see what votes the voter marked. What is required is that the witness sees the 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 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. G.S. § 10B-30.
- Any person who assisted the voter must sign and date the certificate in the proper place on the envelope.
After Marking the Absentee Ballot
- Once the ballot is marked, the voter or a person assisting the voter must:
- 1) submit a copy of the voter’s photo ID or an alternative affidavit (reasonable impediment, religious objection, or natural disaster)
- 2) seal the ballot and document in the container-return envelope and
- 3) complete the Absentee Application and Certificate on the ballot container-return envelope.
Voter Photo ID Requirements
- Voters who vote by mail will be asked to enclose a copy of their acceptable photo ID when they return their ballot.
- Voters who vote by mail and do not enclose a copy of their photo ID may sign an affidavit stating a qualifying exception.
- Voters who do not enclose a copy of their photo ID when they return their ballot may have their ballot counted if they bring acceptable photo ID to the county board of elections before 5:00 p.m. on the day before the county canvass.
- For more information, see page on Photo ID
- For civilian absentee voters, once the Absentee Application and Certificate is fully executed with all relevant signatures, the voted ballot (placed inside the container-return envelope) must be returned to the county board of elections no later than 5:00 PM on Election Day.
- Absentee ballots received after 5:00 PM on Election Day will be timely only if they are received by mail no later than 5:00 PM on the third day following the date of the election, and bear a postmark that is dated on or before Election Day.
- The envelope may be mailed or delivered in person to either the county board of elections office or to an open one-stop absentee voting site during the early voting period.
- Only the voter or the voter’s near relative may take possession of the absentee ballot for purposes of returning the ballot to the board of elections.