NC Board of Elections Frequently Asked Question About Absentee Voting Here
Processing Absentee Ballots
Sara Knotts, Brunswick Co NC election director explains in video the process of processing absentee ballots received thru Nov 2 at 5 pm. Those results will be posted at 7:30 pm Nov 3 (absentee ballots received Nov 3-6 have different process)
Questions about voting by mail in North Carolina? We’ve got answers
From the Raleigh News& Observer
BY WILL DORAN AUGUST 05, 2020
Q: What is absentee voting by mail?
A: Absentee voting by mail is an option for North Carolina voters who don’t want to go to the polls to cast their votes in person. There are three key steps to voting by mail in North Carolina. First, voters have to request a mail-in ballot. Then, after their ballot arrives, they have to fill it out in front of at least one witness. Then, they have to return it on time to be counted.
Q: How can I qualify to vote by mail?
A: Anyone who wants to vote by mail can do so. Unlike in some other states, North Carolina voters don’t need an excuse to get an absentee ballot. It’s open to all voters.
Q: How do I register to vote?
A: You can get a voter registration form from your local county board of elections office or from the N.C. State Board of Elections website, fill it out and mail it in. Or, for the first time, you can also now register to vote online. More information is at www.ncsbe.gov/Voters/Registering-to-Vote. Note that just registering to vote won’t mean you automatically get sent a mail-in ballot. That’s a separate form.
Q: When is the voter registration deadline?
A: If you plan to vote by mail, or on Election Day itself, the deadline to register to vote is Oct. 9. However, if you miss that deadline, you can still register in person (and then vote) at a polling place during early voting, which lasts from Oct. 15-31.
Q: How do I get a mail-in ballot?
A: Fill out an absentee ballot request form, then send it in and wait for your ballot. Request forms can be found online at www.ncsbe.gov/Voting-Options or in person at your local county board of elections office. Voters can also call their county elections board and ask to be mailed a request form. You can find the address and phone number of your county elections board at vt.ncsbe.gov/BOEInfo. The request form will have instructions on how to send it back in using mail, email, fax or in-person delivery. Starting in late August, the state’s website at www.ncsbe.gov will also have a portal where people can request absentee ballots and track them.
Q: How long will it take?
A: The state will start sending out absentee ballots on Sept. 4, so people who request them before then should get their ballots in early September. Elections officials say that after Sept. 4, if you send in your request form and a week later still haven’t gotten your ballot, contact your county elections board to make sure there were no issues.
Q: Can I request absentee ballots for my friends and family?
A: Not for your friends, but you can request them for most family members. State law says that for someone to help fill out or send in an absentee ballot request form for someone else, they have to be a member of an official “multipartisan assistance team,” or the voter’s legal guardian or close relative. A close relative is one of the following: spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, stepparent, stepchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law or son-in-law.
Q: How do I make sure my vote actually gets counted?
A: There are several rules to make sure you follow if voting by mail, to ensure there aren’t any problems with your ballot. All the rules should be clearly indicated on the ballot itself, but a key one is that you have to have one eligible witness. That person shouldn’t see who you vote for, but needs to see that you filled out the ballot.More information can be found at www.ncsbe.gov/Voting-Options/Absentee-Voting.
Q: Can I track my ballot after I send it back?
A: Yes. You should be able to track the status of your ballot by entering your information at vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/VoterInfo. This year, the state will also be launching a separate, more detailed tracking system. More details on that are expected soon.
Q: What happens if the state decides to reject my mail-in ballot? Do I get a second chance?
A: It’s possible that officials might not accept your ballot if you don’t do it right. For instance, maybe it arrives late, or in the wrong envelope, or without a proper signature. In the past voters have not been guaranteed the option to address fixable problems. But a new court order says the state must give voters “due process” to fix problems with their mail-in ballot. Not all problems will be fixable, so it’s important to carefully follow the rules to make sure your vote does get counted.
Q: What if I request an absentee ballot but later change my mind and want to vote in person?
A: That’s fine. As long as you don’t vote twice — that’s a crime — you can vote however you want. Simply getting a mail-in ballot doesn’t mean you have to use that ballot. So as long as you don’t also mail in a ballot, you can always change your mind and go vote in person.
Q: What if I send in my ballot but, for any number of reasons, later want to cancel it and vote in-person instead?
A: That’s too bad. Once you mail your ballot in, you can’t cancel it.
Q: What’s the deadline to ask for a mail-in ballot?
A: People can request an absentee ballot at any point from now until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27 — one week before Election Day. Options for delivering the forms include by hand, fax, email or mail. If you do mail it, be sure to do so at least a few days before the deadline because it must be in by Oct. 27. For example, if you mail your request form back and it’s postmarked before Oct. 27 but not delivered until after Oct. 27, it won’t count and you won’t get sent a ballot to use.
Q: What’s the deadline to return my mail-in ballot?
A: Any ballot postmarked on or before Election Day AND that gets delivered no later than three days after the election will be counted.
Q: How long will it take the post office to deliver my ballot if I mail it in?
A: There’s no way to guarantee that. Mail typically takes just a few days. to be delivered However, people might want to plan on it taking longer this fall. The Washington Post reported in late July that President Donald Trump’s administration has started enacting changes that have caused days-long backlogs in mail delivery.
Q: So if ballots can still count if they get delivered up to three days after the election, does that mean we won’t actually know who wins on election night?
A: It’s possible. People need to be prepared for that uncertainty. It’s likely that voters’ mail-in ballots will be included in the totals reported on election night as long as their ballots are delivered on or before Election Day. But if lots of people wait until the last minute to mail in their ballots, or if there are delays in the mail, or if certain races are very close, then yes, it’s possible we won’t immediately know who won.
Q: Can I hand-deliver my ballot instead of mailing it?
A: Yes. They might be called mail-in ballots, but voters are allowed to hand-deliver them as long as they do so before 5 p.m. on Election Day. To count, the ballot must be taken to the local county board of elections’ main office — or to an early voting site, during early voting. Just don’t take it to your neighborhood precinct on Election Day. And it must be delivered by either the voter or a close relative, and sealed in the proper envelope, to combat potential fraud.
Q: Multiple people at my house are voting by mail. Can we put all the ballots in one of our envelopes to save money on stamps?
A: No. Each envelope is specific to each ballot, so any ballots not in the right envelope won’t be counted.
Q: Is a photo ID required to vote?
A: No. As of early August, there are still voter ID lawsuits unresolved in North Carolina. But unless something changes between then and Election Day, then no, you won’t need a photo ID to vote either in person or by mail.
Q: Some group mailed me an absentee ballot request form. Can I use that?
A: Maybe. Be careful with using request forms from outside groups. North Carolina elections officials aren’t allowed to accept absentee ballot request forms that were even partially filled out before being mailed to voters. But if the request form is blank, it’s probably fine to fill out and send in. And for people who do accidentally send in an ineligible form — which has already happened because of at least one group’s mistake this year — the state will try to contact those voters to let them know to try again.
Q: President Trump says voting by mail is fraudulent. Can I trust the system?
A: There is no evidence of widespread fraud in any type of voting, including voting by mail — which is how Trump himself votes. Trump has made outlandish claims about voter fraud swaying elections for years, but he has never been able to show any proof to back up those claims.
Q: What about the McCrae Dowless scandal? Didn’t that revolve around fraud and mail-in ballots?
A: In North Carolina, there was a scandal in 2018 involving a Bladen County political operative who allegedly tried to sway a congressional election with an absentee ballot scheme. But the state had anti-fraud safeguards in place that caught the scheme in time to call for a new election. And since then, the legislature has passed even stricter rules targeting future ploys like that.
Q: How does the state know voters are who they say they are?
A: There are a few safety measures. When people send in their absentee ballot request form, they have to list either the number on their ID or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Later, someone has to witness the voter filling out the ballot and then sign the ballot as a witness, attesting that no fraud occurred. If there is fraud, both the person who committed it and the person who witnessed it can be charged with a crime.
Q: My close friend or family member got a mail-in ballot, but then died, left the state or otherwise became unable to vote. They told me who they would have voted for, so can I fill it out for them?
A: No. That is voter impersonation, and it’s illegal.
Q: But there are tons of dead people still registered to vote, right? How is the state going to stop fraud when that’s the case?
A: That isn’t the case. That’s a false claim that gets circulated just about every election, despite proof that it’s false. When a registered voter dies in North Carolina, they automatically get taken off the voter rolls. And if they’re registered to vote here but die in another state, they will get taken off the rolls too, as long as the other state notifies North Carolina.