Absentee Voting in North Carolina


  • Any North Carolina registered voter 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.
     

Requesting an Absentee Ballot


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, or any member of a multipartisan assistance team (MAT) authorized to assist voters, must first 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. Effective July 1 for the 2020 general election, any member of a multipartisan assistance team, or MAT team, may assist any voter in completing a State Absentee Ballot Request Form. MAT team members may also deliver a completed request form to the county board of elections and serve as a witness for the casting of an absentee ballot.
  • 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

For the November 2020 general election, completed State Absentee Ballot Request Forms may be emailed, faxed or hand-delivered to the voter's county board of elections by one of the following:

  • the voter;
  • the voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian; or
  • a member of a multipartisan assistance team (MAT). 

Forms delivered by any other person will not be processed.

Completed absentee ballot request forms may also be delivered by mail by the U.S. Postal Service or designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f).

A signed and completed State Absentee Ballot 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 which the ballot is being requested.

Requests received after the absentee request deadline will not be considered on time, regardless of any postmark date.

Request forms 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 voter's county board of elections.
 

2020 Deadlines for Requesting an Absentee Ballot
  • November General Election: By 5 p.m. Tuesday, October 27, 2020
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
  • Individuals may copy and distribute the official State Absentee Ballot Request Form, as long as it is blank. Individuals and groups should include the absentee ballot request form instructions when distributing request forms.
  • No one may create their own absentee ballot request form. 
     

Completing the State Absentee Ballot Request Form


Required Information
  • 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

Voting an Absentee Ballot


Witnesses
  • Note: For the November 2020 general election only, only one witness is required for an absentee ballot. For all other elections, 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.
       
Prohibited Witnesses/Assistants
  • 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
  • After observing the voter marking the ballot, the voter's one witness for the November 2020 general election (two witnesses or a notary public for all other elections) must 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.
  • Any individual assisting a voter in marking or mailing the ballot must meet the same requirements as a person witnessing the ballot.
After Marking the Absentee Ballot
  • Once the ballot is marked, the voter or a person assisting the voter must:
    • 1) seal the ballot in the container-return envelope and
    • 2) complete the Absentee Application and Certificate on the ballot container-return envelope.
       

Returning the Voted Ballot


  • For civilian absentee voters, once the Absentee Application and Certificate is completed 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 p.m. on Election Day.
  • Absentee ballots received after 5 p.m. on Election Day will be timely only if they are received by mail no later than 5 p.m. on the third day following the date of the election, and postmarked on or before Election Day.
  • The envelope may be mailed or delivered in person to the county board of elections office or an open early voting site during the early voting period.
  • Only the voter or the voter’s near relative may possess the absentee ballot to return it to the board of elections.