Assistance for Voters in Care Facilities
Multipartisan Assistance Team (MAT)
A multipartisan assistance team, or “MAT,” is a group appointed by a county board of elections to provide assistance with mail-in absentee voting and other services to voters living at facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.
A MAT includes, at a minimum, two people who have different party affiliations (or, in the alternative, persons who were unanimously appointed by a bipartisan county board of elections). If you request help from a MAT, you should receive impartial, professional assistance. Their job is to help you vote, but your voting choices will remain confidential.
MATs are authorized to help voters in the following ways, with specific legal requirements:
- Providing voter registration services.
- Requesting an absentee ballot.
- Serving as an absentee witness.
- Marking the absentee ballot.
- Sealing the ballot and completing the absentee application.
- Mailing the voted absentee ballot in the closest U.S. mail depository or mailbox, if the voter has a disability.
In the event that a resident requires the help of a team member with the actual marking of a ballot, the voter’s selection is kept in strict confidence.
Scheduling a MAT Visit
To ask about scheduling a MAT visit, contact your county board of elections.
If the county board of elections is unable to schedule a MAT visit within seven days, the voter can receive assistance from any person other than:
- An owner, manager, director, or employee of the facility.
- An individual who holds elective office.
- A candidate for office.
- 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.
N.C.G.S. § 163-226.3 makes it a Class I felony for owners, managers, directors, and employees of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or rest homes (“facilities”) to provide their patients assistance with absentee voting. Assistance includes making a request for an absentee ballot, signing the voter’s absentee ballot application or certificate as a witness, or marking or assisting the voter in marking an absentee ballot.
Reducing Risk Amid COVID-19
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) issued Guidance on Multipartisan Assistance Teams (MAT) Visitation Procedure (PDF) on Aug. 1, 2020, to help ensure that MATs who are assisting patients or residents in covered facilities can reduce the risk of exposure to and transmission of COVID-19.
The guidance provides best practices for county boards of elections and MATs to follow when setting up a visit and providing assistance, including using outdoor visitation, wearing personal protective equipment, and maintaining social distancing where possible. MAT members must follow this guidance any time they visit facilities to make the experience as safe as possible for themselves, voters, and others in the facility.