Detailed Instructions to Vote By Mail
This page is in process of being updated for the 2023 municipal elections.
You may not request an absentee ballot with an expired form.
Follow These 3 Steps
Voting by mail in North Carolina takes three simple steps — requesting, completing, and returning a ballot. Find the information to complete each step by reading the text within each corresponding tab.
Note: If you are a blind or visually impaired registered voter in North Carolina, you can request, complete, and return an accessible absentee ballot online through a system that is compatible with screen readers and that allows for a digital or typed signature. Find detailed instructions at Accessible Absentee Voting.
For details about the 2023 municipal elections, visit Upcoming Election. For an overview of absentee-by-mail voting, see Vote By Mail.
You must be a registered voter to request an absentee ballot. If you have not yet registered to vote, you can find registration information at How to Register.
Complete an Absentee Ballot Request Form
Registered voters in North Carolina must request an absentee ballot with an official N.C. Absentee Ballot Request Form. There are two ways to access and submit the form:
- Online using “Option 1 – Request an Absentee Ballot” at the N.C. Absentee Ballot Portal.
- On paper using the 2023 N.C. Absentee Ballot Request Form in English (fillable PDF).
You must provide your date of birth and one of the following to verify your identity:
- North Carolina driver license number or NCDMV issued identification card number; or
- Last four digits of your Social Security number.
The request form must be signed by either the voter or the voter’s near relative, or legal guardian. A typed signature is not allowed.
The on-paper absentee ballot request form can be mailed or returned in person to your county board of elections (contact information included). Your county board of elections must receive the completed and signed absentee request form by 5 p.m. the Tuesday before Election Day.
Tip: Track Your Absentee Ballot
Track your absentee-by-mail ballot through the mail: Once you have requested your absentee ballot, you can track its status from printed to accepted by signing up online for status notifications through BallotTrax.
Who Can Request a Ballot for You
A near relative or legal guardian may request a ballot on behalf of the voter. 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 you need assistance requesting a ballot due to disability, you may choose any person to make that request for you.
Who Can Assist You in Completing a Request
Most voters are only entitled to assistance from their near relative or verifiable legal guardian.
If a voter is unable to read or write, and a near relative or legal guardian is not available to assist that voter, the voter may request some other person to give assistance. That person must complete the assistance section of the absentee request form.
Special note for disabled voters: Any voter who needs assistance due to disability may receive assistance completing an absentee ballot request form from any person they choose.
Assistance for Voters Who Are Patients in a Hospital, Clinic, Nursing Home, or Adult Care Home (“Facility”)
Any registered voter in a facility may request assistance from a Multipartisan Assistance Team (MAT). A MAT is a group appointed by a county board of elections to assist voters in facilities with mail-in absentee voting. To schedule a MAT visit, contact your county board of elections.
Important Note: Due to a federal court order issued in July 2022, an absentee voter who needs assistance due to disability may receive assistance from any person they choose. They may still request and use a MAT team, but they are not required to do so. They may receive assistance from the staff of the hospital, clinic, nursing home, or rest home where they are a patient or resident. They may also receive assistance from an elected official, political party officeholder, or candidate.
If the voter does not need assistance due to disability:
- It is unlawful for any owner, manager, director, or employee of the facility other than the voter’s near relative, verifiable legal guardian, or member of a MAT to request an absentee ballot on behalf of a voter.
- If neither the voter’s near relative nor verifiable legal guardian is available, and a MAT is not available within 7 calendar days of a request, the voter may obtain assistance from anyone who is not: An owner, manager, director, or employee of the facility; an elected official, a candidate, or an officeholder in a political party; or a campaign manager or treasurer for a candidate or political party.
How to Complete Your Ballot
Mark your ballot.
Mark your ballot in the presence of a notary public or two witnesses. Your notary public or two witnesses should observe that you mark the ballot, not how you vote.
Seal your ballot.
Place your ballot in the return envelope that came with your ballot and seal the envelope. Don’t put anything else into the envelope.
Sign the envelope.
Sign your name on the back of the envelope.
Have your witnesses or notary public sign the envelope.
Each witness will sign their name, print their name, and provide their full address on the back of the envelope.
Anyone who is 18 years of age or older can be a witness except a candidate (unless the candidate is your near relative or legal guardian or you are in a hospital, clinic, nursing home, or adult care home and are requesting the candidate's assistance due to disability).
See “Assistance with Returning Your Ballot” on the next tab for additional witness requirements.
Alternatively, you may have the application certified by one notary instead of two witnesses.
If you received assistance, have the assistant sign the envelope.
If you need assistance, your near relative or verifiable legal guardian may mark the ballot at your direction or help you fill out the envelope. If your near relative or verifiable legal guardian is unavailable to assist you, you may receive assistance from another person.
If you are a voter who is a patient in a hospital, clinic, nursing home, or adult care home (“facility”), you may receive assistance from a Multipartisan Assistance Team (MAT). A MAT is a group appointed by a county board of elections to assist voters in facilities with mail-in absentee voting. To schedule a MAT visit, contact your county board of elections. Unless a voter requests assistance due to disability, it is unlawful for any owner, manager, director, or employee of the facility other than the voter’s near relative, verifiable legal guardian, or member of a MAT to assist a voter in completing their absentee ballot. A voter who needs assistance due to disability may choose any person who is at least 18 years old to provide assistance.
If you received assistance with your ballot, the assistant must sign their name, print their name, and provide their full address on the back of the envelope.
2 Ways to Return Your Ballot
- Mail your ballot:
- Include correct postage (63 cents or one Forever Stamp) on your ballot return envelope. Your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day, and received no later than three days after the election. See Numbered Memo 2022-09: Absentee Ballot Return Deadline.
- We strongly recommend you mail your ballot well before Election Day, to help ensure it arrives in time. If you place your ballot in a USPS drop box on Election Day it may not be postmarked until the day after, depending on pickup time for that box.
- Return your ballot in person:
- You can return your ballot to your county board of elections office or to a one-stop early voting site in your county.
- If returning to your county board of elections office on Election Day, it must be received by 5 p.m.
- You may not return your ballot to a polling place on Election Day.
Who Can Return the Ballot?
According to state law, only you, or your near relative or legal guardian may mail or hand-deliver the Return Envelope. Do not give your balloting materials to a neighbor, friend, or stranger. A near relative is your: Spouse, brother, sister, parent, child, stepchild, grandparent, grandchild, stepparent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, or son-in-law. If you need assistance returning your ballot due to disability, these restrictions do not apply, and you may ask any person you choose to return your ballot.
Assistance with Mailing Your Ballot
If you have a disability and need assistance mailing your ballot: You may direct an individual to immediately take the sealed envelope containing your ballot to the closest U.S. mail depository or mailbox. If you have a mailbox at your residence, the mailbox is the closest depository. The individual taking your sealed ballot to the closest depository or mailbox must sign the Voter Assistant Certification on the back of the ballot envelope.