- Absentee-by-mail voting is when a voter fills out a request form for an absentee ballot, then mails it to their county board of elections. The BOE will process the form and mail the voter a ballot, which the voter should complete, have witnessed, and return by mail.
- Any registered North Carolina voter may request an absentee ballot by mail. No excuse is needed to vote by absentee. To request an absentee ballot, complete the North Carolina Absentee Ballot Request Form. The Absentee Ballot Request Form may only be signed by the voter or a voter’s near relative or legal guardian. According to the law, a "near relative" can be any of the following: spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild of the voter.
A completed Absentee Ballot Request Form may be scanned and emailed, faxed, or mailed to the county board of elections. The contact information for the county boards of elections may be found here.
How to Request an Absentee Ballot
To receive a mail-in absentee ballot for an election, a voter or the voter's near-relative* or legal guardian must use the State Absentee Ballot Request form to request the ballot. Request forms are available at the State Board of Elections office, here on the State Board of Elections website, and at county boards of election offices. The form can be reproduced.
*A "near-relative" means a spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild.
A signed and completed State Absentee Ballot Request Form must be received by your county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the last Tuesday prior to the date of the election for which the ballot is being requested.
A signed and completed request form may be mailed, faxed, e-mailed or delivered in person to the county board of elections office.
Note: A request form must be received for each election that a voter desires to vote a by-mail absentee ballot.
Completing the State Absentee Ballot Request Form
The State Absentee Ballot Request Form may only be signedby the voter or a near-relative or legal guardian of the voter. When completing the form, the voter or the requestor must sign and provide the voter's name, residential address, date of birth, and an identification number for the voter (i.e., NC DMV driver license number, NC DMV identification card number, or the last four digits of the voter's social security number.) If an identification number is not provided on the form, then the requestor must submit one of the following documents listed below along with the completed request form:
- A current utility bill
- A bank statement
- A government check
- A paycheck
- Other government documents containing name and address.
If a person other than the voter (a near relative or legal guardian) makes the request, then the requestor must also provide his or her name and residential address on the request form. If requesting a ballot for a partisan primary, and the voter is registered Unaffiliated, the voter or requestor should indicate the ballot preference for the voter. Finally, the voter or requestor must provide the address where the absentee balloting materials are to be mailed, if different than the voter's residential address.
Note: If a registered North Carolina voter (including eligible dependents) is absent due to military service or is currently living overseas, then only the actual voter should complete the State Absentee Ballot Request Form.
Receiving a Ballot
If a valid request is received, the county board of elections office will mail the voter absentee balloting materials to the address provided on the request form when absentee ballots are available. Absentee ballots are available:
- 50 days prior to the date of a statewide primary election, county bond election or any other election, except those listed below;
- 60 days prior to the date of a statewide general election;
- 30 days prior to municipal elections.
The absentee ballot packet you receive will consist of the following materials:
- A blank official absentee ballot
- Absentee voting instructions
- Absentee Application and Certificate
- Absentee Ballot return envelope
Voting an Absentee Ballot
In the presence of two witnesses (or one witness if the witness is a notary-public), the voter should mark the ballot, or cause it to be marked according to his or her instructions. Once the ballot is marked, the voter or a person assisting the voter must seal the ballot in the container-return envelope and must then complete the Absentee Application and Certificate on the back of the ballot container-return envelope. The voter’s witnesses must complete and sign the envelope in the space designated as Witnesses’ Certification (or Alternative Notary-Witness Certification, if using a notary-public as the witness). If someone assisted the voter, the assister must sign and date the certificate as well.
Returning a Voted Ballot
Once the Absentee Application and Certificate is fully executed with all relevant signatures, the voted ballot (contained inside of the container-return envelope) must be returned to the county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the date of the election. The envelope may be mailed or delivered in person to the board of elections’ office. Only the 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, stepchild or qualified legal guardian) may deliver an absentee ballot in person.
An absentee ballot may also be delivered to an election official at a one-stop voting site during any time that site is open for voting. Ballots received after 5:00 p.m. on election day will be timely ONLY if they are received by mail and bear a postmark that is dated on or before the date of the election and are received no later than 5:00 p.m. on the third day following the election.
Assistance for Voters Living in Facilities
Some voters find it necessary to vote by mail-in absentee ballot because they are elderly, limited in their mobility, or have a disability. This group of voters includes persons living at facilities such as nursing homes. Oftentimes, these voters require assistance in completing the forms or marking the ballot. The first preference, according to the law, is for the voter to receive assistance from a near relative or guardian. But some voters, particularly voters who live in facilities, may not have a near relative or guardian available to provide that assistance. It is important to know that employees of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or rest homes are prohibited by law from providing assistance with absentee voting. So, voters who live in facilities such as nursing homes or rest homes face special challenges in casting a mail-in absentee ballot. But here’s the good news: In every county, an impartial team called a “Multipartisan Assistance Team” is available to visit facilities such as nursing homes in order to provide assistance with mail-in absentee voting. Click here for more information about Multipartisan Assistance Teams.