North Carolina Voters : Absentee Ballot Request
Absentee Ballots in North Carolina
North Carolina is one of the key battleground states going into the 2020 presidential election. Because of this, state officials were already under scrutiny for how they planned to run the election. In light of Covid-19, there is even more pressure on election officials to provide opportunities for voters to safely cast their ballots. One of the biggest changes in the election is the renewed focus on absentee ballots, which allow you to receive and cast a ballot by mail. For the 2020 presidential election, all voters are allowed to request an absentee ballot, without having to provide a valid excuse.
Applying for an Absentee Ballot in North Carolina
If you want to cast your ballot through the mail, you must apply for an absentee ballot. The application process is straightforward, asking for your name, current address, date of birth and a signature. You must also be able to provide one of the following for identification verification:
- Driver’s license number.
- Special or state identification card number.
- Last four digits of your Social Security number.
The application is largely for security purposes. By applying for an absentee ballot, you are waiving your right to cast any other ballot in the election. The most important part of the application is at the bottom, the request for your signature. If you are having someone pick up or complete the ballot on your behalf, you must have him or her sign the application as well. The signature is another security measure, preventing other voters from attempting to impersonate you to steal your ballot.
There are several ways to get an absentee ballot application, including:
- By mailing, faxing or calling your county board of elections office.
- Visiting the county board of elections office in person.
Another major change to absentee voting in the 2020 presidential election is the option to submit your absentee voter application by email. Otherwise, you must mail or fax the application to your county board of elections office, or drop it off in person at the office. The latest you can submit an application is 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before election day. For the 2020 presidential election, this is October 27th.
Casting an Absentee Ballot in North Carolina
North Carolina uses different rules for casting an absentee ballot compared to most other states. In order to vote through the mail, you must have a witness. In normal elections, two witnesses are required, but because of Covid-19, an executive order was passed so only one witness is necessary. The witness does not have to see who you vote for, but he or she must sign the ballot to confirm you were the one who cast the vote. You may have anyone act as a witness as long as he or she is above the age of 17 and is not a candidate in the election.
The rules are stricter if you are voting in a hospital or nursing home. In these circumstances, the owner, manger, director or employee cannot act as a witness. If you do not have anyone who can act as a witness, you can request the services of a notary public to act as the witness.
Once you and your witness have signed the ballot, you may place it into the return envelope, which is provided with the absentee ballot. You may then either mail the ballot to your county board of elections, or deliver the ballot to a deposit box, available at most polling stations. The last day you can submit your absentee ballot is 5 p.m. on election day.
Military and Overseas Absentee Ballots in North Carolina
If you are serving in the military or living overseas during the election, you have two additional options to request an absentee ballot. The first is to apply using a Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) and the second is using the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) form. FWAB is a simpler form and only applies for federal elections.
Most of the deadlines are the same for military and overseas voters. You have a slightly longer deadline to submit the ballot, up until 7:30 p.m. on the election day. Absentee ballots are typically sent out earlier for military and overseas voters, to account for how much longer it takes to send and receive mail. Absentee ballots are sent out 60 days before a federal election. If you have not received your ballot within 30 days, contact your election office to confirm whether the ballot was sent.
How is North Carolina Preparing for the 2020 Election
From the earliest days of the pandemic, state officials were preparing for the presidential election. Voting officials set aside nearly $11 million to prepare polling stations. The state is expected to receive another $11.6 million in aid from the Help America Vote Act. These additional funds are going to be used for improving security and updating voting technology across the state. The state is also using funding to pay for all postage associated with absentee ballots.
Face shields, masks and hand sanitizer are being provided across all polling stations. County officials are also looking for larger spaces to open polling stations. This will make it easier for both workers and voters to practice safe social distancing. Election officials are also looking into providing masks and unique pens to each voter.