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How to Vote Absentee by Mail

When should I vote by mail?

The deadline to request your absentee ballot for the 2020 Election has passed. 

If you already requested your ballot, see the information below on how to submit your completed ballot.

Play it safe – don’t wait! Experts recommend voting your absentee by-mail ballot at least two weeks prior to the formal deadline. Vote and return your ballot as soon as you receive it. 

Deadline to submit your ballot:
by 5 PM on Tues., November 3

How can I track my ballot?

Pro-Tip: Track the status of your mail-in ballot — from printing to acceptance — by using ballottrax. Information on tracking your ballot via ballottrax is included in your county’s ballot instructions. It offers:

  • a voter dashboard with the status of your ballot
  • email/text/voice alerts to track your ballot’s status
  • Spanish-language capability

3 Easy Steps to Vote by Mail

SUBMIT AN ABSENTEE BALLOT REQUEST FORM

The deadline to request your absentee ballot for the 2020 Election has passed. 

If you already requested your ballot, see the information below on how to submit your completed ballot.

How to vote in the 2020 NC Election

VOTE YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT

After you submit an absentee ballot request form, an absentee ballot will be mailed to you.  Mark your absentee ballot that is mailed to you in the presence of one witness. The witness should NOT violate your privacy (i.e, watch your voting choices) while you vote.

Once your ballot is completed, do these three things before your return it:
(1) seal the ballot in the return envelope provided,
(2) complete and sign the Absentee Application and Certificate on the return envelope, and
(3) have one witness complete and sign the return envelope in the space designated as Witness’s Certification.

💡 Almost anyone over 18 years old can serve as a witness – including a spouse or other family member.

Before completing the ballot return envelope, the voter should read the instructions in Step 1 (pictured below). Step 1 explains who can and cannot serve as the voter’s witness.

On the ballot return envelope, the voter must sign their name in Step 2 (pictured below).

For the 2020 general election, only one witness is required for a voter who is completing an absentee ballot. The witness must complete Step 3 on the ballot return envelope, which includes printing their name and address and signing their name.

If the voter needs assistance completing their ballot, they may receive assistance from a person that meets the qualifications in Step 1. The voter assistant certification section of the return envelope must include the assistant’s printed name and address and signature and must only be completed if the voter received assistance.

RETURN YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT

Deadline: 5 PM on Tuesday, November 3, 2020
Pro-Tip: Don’t wait until the deadline to submit your ballot.  Vote and return it as soon as you receive it. If you wait until Nov. 3 to mail your ballot, you must take it to a mail carrier to have it postmarked by 5 p.m.

You have three options to return your ballot in the provided return envelope:
(1) deliver it in person to your COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS by 5 PM on Tuesday, November 3,
(2) deliver it in person to an early voting site during the early voting period (Oct. 15-31), OR
(3) mail it to your COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS using a 55 cent stamp with the envelope postmarked by 5 PM on Election Day.
💡 Only the voter or the voter’s near relative or legal guardian may return your ballot— do not give it to someone else to return.

More questions about how to vote by mail?

See our Voting by Mail FAQ!

Or call 888-OUR-VOTE to speak with an elections expert.


Helpful Resources

NC Absentee Ballot Request Form in English

Download the NC Absentee Ballot Request form in English here to print and submit.

NC Absentee Ballot Request Form in Spanish (EN ESPAÑOL)

Instrucciones para el formulario estatal de solicitud para la boleta del voto en ausencia 2020.

How to Vote by Mail One-Pager

Share our helpful one-page guide on how to vote by mail with your friends and neighbors.

State Board of Elections FAQ

The State Board of Elections released a list of answers to frequently asked questions about voting.


Voting by Mail FAQ

Any North Carolina registered voter may request and receive a mail-in “absentee” ballot. No special circumstance is needed.

Uniformed service members and U.S. citizens living outside of the country may request absentee ballots under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). For more UOCAVA information, go to FVAP.gov.

When thinking about who can “help” a voter with their absentee form, it’s important to distinguish “helping” (Explaining how to complete the form, sending voters a blank form, etc.) versus “assisting” (a legal definition that means physically completing the form on behalf of the voter — i.e., not simply distributing, explaining, setting up an online submission, etc.).

Absentee Ballot Request Form Completion & Helping
Anyone can show a voter how to use anyone’s cell phone to request a ballot, for example: (1) by opening the State Board’s portal to electronically fill out, sign and submit a request; or (2) by demonstrating how to take a  cellphone photo of the voter’s completed paper request form and how to send by email to the appropriate county board. 

  • Unless qualified to assist a voter, a helper must not fill out the form, in part or whole, or hit send.
  • The helper may photograph the request form, upload the photo to an email, type in the election board’s email address, and set up the submission or open the State Board’s portal, BUT the voter must hit Send or Submit.
  • It is important to include a phone number on the form in case something is blurry or hard to read.
  • Anyone can mass distribute BLANK request forms through mailings, hand distribution, emails/tweets/etc. with links to the form or with an attachment. Forms distributed in mass cannot be partially filled out, for example, with the voter’s name and address.
  • Anyone can provide mass instructions for completing and submitting an absentee ballot request during a meeting, webinar, Zoom, website video, etc.

Who is qualified to assist a voter? Serve as a witness? 

A voter’s near relative or legal guardian may assist them in completing their absentee ballot. A near relative is: your spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, or legal guardian. If a near relative or legal guardian is not available, the voter may request some other individual to assist them. This person must sign and date the certificate in the proper place on the absentee ballot envelope.

A person who assists a voter with completing their ballot may also serve as a witness. Voters should ensure that anyone assisting and witnessing a ballot is eligible to do so. This means the witness / assistant is over 18 years old and is not a candidate for office (unless the candidate is the voter’s near relative).

If a near relative or legal guardian is not available, a voter may also request assistance from a Multipartisan Assistance Team (MAT). MATs can help voters complete their absentee ballots, and can also serve as a witness. Call your county board of elections to request MAT assistance. Look up your county BOE at demnc.co/yourboe

There are additional restrictions on who may assist and serve as a witness for voters who are patients in a facility that provides residential or in-patient health care (such as an assisted living facility or hospital). For these voters:

  • If neither a voter’s near relative nor verifiable legal guardian is available, and a MAT is not available within seven calendar days of a telephonic request for assistance, the voter may obtain assistance from anyone who is not (1) an owner, manager, director, or employee of the Facility; (2) an elected official; (3) a candidate for office; or (4) an officeholder in a political party or a campaign manager or treasurer for a candidate or political party. The voter may also not have anyone in categories (1) – (4) witness their absentee ballot.

Important: Only you (the voter), your legal guardian, or your near relative may return your absentee ballot, for example, to a county BOE, or Early Voting location. However, if you require assistance due to a disability in mailing your envelope containing your executed absentee ballot, you may direct that the sealed envelope be taken directly to the closest U.S. mail depository or mailbox by a person selected by the voter.  

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina elections officials are preparing for a significant increase in ballots cast by mail in 2020.

For this reason, it is best to request your absentee ballot and return it as soon as possible.

You can request a ballot now. Ballots will be mailed to those who have requested them beginning September 4.

⚠️ To help voters understand the process, the State Board released this “FAQs: Voting by Mail in North Carolina in 2020.

If you have access to a computer, you can download and complete the form digitally with a digital signature and email it to your county board of elections. The signature must
be unique to the voter and must be readable. Voters may use a pen, or their finger, stylus, or mouse for the signature if they have the capability. Voters may not use a service such as
DocuSign that inserts a typed or cursive font signature that is not made by the voter.

Alternatively, voters can pick up blank copies at their county board of elections office or may call the North Carolina State Board of Elections or their county board of elections and request a blank absentee ballot request form be sent to them by mail, e-mail, or fax. 

Voters can submit online requests for absentee ballots through the North Carolina State Board of Elections ONLINE PORTAL.

It is NOT currently possible to vote absentee online.  You can download and complete the ABSENTEE REQUEST FORM digitally with a digital signature and email it to your county board of elections.  

Voters can submit online requests for absentee ballots through the North Carolina State Board of Elections ONLINE PORTAL.

Your absentee ballot will be mailed to you, and the paper ballot must be returned in the accompanying envelope in-person or by mail to your COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS or dropped off in-person at an early voting site during the early voting period (Oct. 15-31).

You are not required to vote by mail (even if you request an absentee ballot). As long as you have not returned your absentee ballot, you can still vote in person during Early Voting or on Election Day. But you cannot vote in person after your absentee ballot has been returned.

You will not receive a confirmation mailing from your County Board of Elections if your application is accepted. You will only hear back if your application needs to be corrected or was rejected.  You can check the status of your request form by contacting your county board of elections.

Yes. The State Board of Elections does provide the Absentee Request Form in Spanish.

(EN ESPAÑOL): INSTRUCCIONES PARA EL FORMULARIO ESTATAL DE SOLICITUD PARA LA BOLETA DEL VOTO EN AUSENCIA 2020

Anyone can distribute BLANK request forms through mailings, hand distribution, emails, etc. with links to the
form or with an attachment, BUT forms distributed in mass cannot be partially filled out, for example, with a voter’s name and address.

Unless qualified to assist a voter, a helper must not fill out the absentee ballot request form or hit send.

The helper may photograph the completed absentee ballot request form, upload the photo to an email, type in the election board’s email address, and set up the submission, or open the State Board’s portal, BUT the voter must hit “Send” or otherwise submit the form. If the request is submitted through an email that does
not plainly belong to the voter, include a message in the body of the email that says, “I affirm that this request is for me and I am personally submitting it by email, Sincerely, [name of voter].

A voter can seek help from their near relative or legal guardian to complete and sign the Absentee Ballot Request Form. A near relative is the voter’s spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild.

If a near relative or legal guardian is not available, and a voter needs help completing the request form due to blindness, disability, or inability to read or write, the voter may get help from another person, who must list their name and address on the form.

Any voter may request help to complete and submit a request from a member of a Multipartisan Assistance Team (MAT), which is designated to serve voters residing or staying in facilities that provide residential or in-patient health care. Call your county board of elections to request help.

If you have a problem, call our hotline, 888-OUR-VOTE.

The facility or facility staff member may provide BLANK absentee ballot request forms but may NOT assist the voter or return a voter’s request form. A voter may use a facility’s fax machine to return their absentee request form; it does not need to be sent from a personal fax machine.

⚠️  No photo ID is required to vote by mail.

Note: If you are voting for the first time in North Carolina and did not provide a Social Security number or driver’s license number with your voter registration application, you will have to submit an identifying document with your name and address (photo not required), like a utility bill, with your absentee ballot. This is relatively uncommon but sometimes happens with people who submit their registration form by mail or a third party— if you think this may apply to your situation, your county board of elections can inform you what information they have on file for you.

The request form will ask for your North Carolina driver’s license or DMV identity card ID number or, in the alternative, the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you do not have access to these numbers, you should contact your County Board of Elections for guidance.

A candidate may not serve as a witness unless the candidate is the voter’s near relative.

Employees of a facility may not serve as a witness for voters in a facility. See the instructions included with the absentee ballot for a complete list of individuals prohibited from serving as witnesses for voters in a facility.

If you wait until Election Day to mail the envelope, go inside the post office and get it hand-postmarked by the clerk. Mail dropped in a blue box or put in your mailbox often does not receive a postmark. You can also submit your ballot in person at your county board of elections.  You CANNOT submit your absentee ballot to an election day polling place.  

A voter who, due to a disability, needs assistance placing their ballot in the closest mailbox may receive assistance by anyone not disqualified from assisting the voter.

As counties process absentee ballots and find deficiencies, they contact voters to inform them that their ballot was not filled out correctly.

NC has a “cure process” in place this year so that voters can validate their ballot without having to submit a new ballot.

Voters with ballots with the following issues on their ballot can correct them through this cure process:

  • Voter did to sign the Voter Certification on the absentee ballot return envelope.
  • Voter signed in the wrong place.
  • Witness or assistant did not print name.
  • Witness or assistant did not print address.
  • Witness or assisting signed the wrong line.

The following issues will require a new (reissued) ballot:

  • Witness or assistant did not sign the absentee ballot return envelope.
  • Envelope appears unsealed upon arrival to the county board of elections office.
  • Envelope indicates that the voter is requesting a new ballot.

Through the “cure process,” the voter will receive a “Cure Certification” through the mail and via the email the voter provided when requesting their ballot.  The voter can sign the mailed “Cure Certification” by signing with a regular pen.  The voter can sign the emailed “Cure Certification” with a unique (not typed) signature.

Cure certifications can be submitted to the county board of elections by:

  • fax,
  • email,
  • in person,
  • by USPS,
  • by commercial carrier (UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc.)

Cure certifications can be returned only by the voter, the voter’s near relative or legal guardian, or a multi-partisan assistance team (MAT).

If the issue requires a new ballot to be issued:

  • The voter will be mailed a new ballot.
  • The voter will vote the ballot.
  • The voter can return:
    • via mail,
    • in person at an Early Voting site in their county, or
    • at their County Board of Elections office

*Only the voter or the voter’s near relative or legal guardian may return the ballot.

NOTE: Voters whose ballots were marked as deficient or were spoiled may choose to vote in person during Early Voting or on Election day as long as they DO NOT vote their reissued absentee ballot.