Detailed Instructions to Vote By Mail in 2021
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.
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.
Note: If you are a blind or visually impaired 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.
Complete an Absentee Ballot Request Form
You may complete an absentee ballot request form by one of three options:
- Online using “Option 1 – Request an Absentee Ballot” at the N.C. Absentee Ballot Portal.
- On paper using the English N.C. Absentee Ballot Request Form for 2021 (fillable PDF).
- On paper using the Spanish N.C. Absentee Ballot Request Form for 2021 (fillable PDF).
You must provide your date of birth and one of the following as a form of identification:
- 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:
- Sept. 28, 2021, for the municipal elections on Oct. 5, 2021.
- Oct. 26, 2021, for the municipal elections on Nov. 2, 2021.
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.
Who Can Assist You in Completing a Request
Voters are only entitled to assistance from their near relative or verifiable legal guardian. If the voter is blind, disabled, or unable to read or write, and there is not a near relative or legal guardian 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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).
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. 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 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 (55 cents or one Forever Stamp) on your ballot return envelope. Your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day and received no later than 5 p.m. three days after Election Day.
- 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:
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.
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, as long as the person is not a candidate (unless the candidate is your near relative or legal guardian). For patients in facilities, the following individuals are also prohibited from assisting you with mailing your ballot:
- An owner, manager, director, or employee, of a hospital, clinic, nursing home, or rest home in which you are a patient or resident.
- A person who holds any federal, state, or local elective office.
- A person who holds 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.
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.