Absentee Voting

Any registered voter in North Carolina who is qualified to vote in an election can either request and receive a mail-in absentee ballot or vote during One-Stop for any election, whether it is a statewide primary, general election, or special election on constitutional amendments, referendum or bond proposals, or any municipal election in which absentee voting is allowed. No special circumstance or excuse is needed to receive and vote a mail-in absentee ballot.

The absentee public register for an election can be accessed here.  Interested parties can select the election date and view public data regarding absentee voting for that election.

“Until further order of the court, voters are not required to show photo ID. The law was enjoined by a federal district court on December 31, 2019. This page will be updated if new information becomes available.” For more information, click here.

General Instructions

A person must be a registered voter in their North Carolina County of residence in order to request an absentee ballot. If not registered to vote in the proper county, a person must submit a voter registration application along with the State Absentee Ballot Request Form. The deadline to register to vote is 25 days prior to the date of the election.  Registered voters may request a ballot through the new online Absentee Request Portal on the NC State Board of Elections website or fill out the NC State Absentee Request Form.  For more information about how to vote absentee-by-mail, click here.

Completing the Form

The voter’s full name, residential address, date of birth and an identification number must be provided on this form. This information will be used to confirm your voter registration. In addition, this form must be signed by the voter or the voter’s near relative or qualified legal guardian. The absentee ballot request form may also serve as a voter change form; however, changes in voter registration may only be made by the voter.

Who may make a request for an absentee ballot

Either the voter or the voter’s near relative or qualified legal guardian may request an absentee ballot. A “near relative” is defined as 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 a registered voter is a patient in any hospital, clinic, nursing home or rest home, it is unlawful for any owner, manager, director, employee, or other person, other than the voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian, to request an absentee ballot on behalf of the voter.

Proof of Identification

If the voter’s NC driver license number, NC DMV-issued identification card number, or last four digits of social security number is not provided, a copy of one of the following must be provided along with the request form:

  1. A current and valid photo identification.
  2. A document that shows the name and residential address of the voter: a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document.

Ballot Availability

  • 50 days prior to the date of a statewide primary election
  • 60 days prior to the date of a statewide general election
  • 30 days prior to the date of municipal elections

Submitting the form

  • Completed absentee request forms may only be delivered in-person to the county board of elections by one of the following:
    • the voter
    • the voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian
    • a member of a multipartisan assistance team (MAT) Page
    • U.S. Postal Service or designated delivery service authorized pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7502(f).
    • Forms returned by any other person will not be processed.
  • Completed absentee request forms may be submitted by fax at (910) 798-7295 or by email (absrequest@nhcgov.com)
  • Voters may submit their absentee request online using the new NC Absentee Ballot Request Portal on the NC State Board of Elections website.
  • A signed and completed State Absentee Ballot Request Form must be received by the county board of elections office no later than 5:00 PM on the Tuesday prior to the date of the election for which the ballot is being requested.
  • Requests that are received after the absentee request deadline will not be deemed timely, regardless of any postmark date.
  • Requests forms that are delivered by the deadline to the State Board will be considered timely. In the interest of ensuring that county boards of elections are able to promptly process voters’ absentee requests, we strongly recommend that forms be submitted to the appropriate county board of elections.

 

Completing the Ballot

For the 2020 General Election, only one witness is required for an absentee ballot. The voter is required to mark the ballot in the presence of the witness. The witness should not observe so closely that they can see how the voter votes. The successful submission of a ballot requires the completion of the container-return envelope.  The voter must ensure that they have signed and completed “Step 2,” and the voter’s witness must sign and complete “Step 3” on the container-return envelope.

If the voter received assistance in marking the ballot or needed assistance in mailing the ballot, the person providing this assistance must complete the Voter Assistant Certification also found on the container- return envelope. This portion of the container-return envelope differs from the “Witness” portion of the envelope, and is only required in situations where the voter received assistance completing or mailing the ballot.

Returning the Ballot

A late civilian ballot is one that received after the absentee-ballot receipt deadline by (1) 5 p.m. on Election Day or (2), if postmarked on or before Election Day and received by mail by the deadline for receipt of postmarked ballots.

 

UOCAVA

Some citizens, such as people serving in the military who are away from their permanent home on Election Day, their families, or U.S. citizens who are living abroad, have special voting rights and ways to register to vote. These people have the choice of either requesting a mail-in absentee ballot the same way as other registered voters, or they can apply to register and/or vote through special programs for military and overseas voters as described below.

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) is a federal law that requires states to allow certain voters who are absent from their county of residence to have special rights that provide an expedited means for them to register and vote by mail-in absentee ballot. In order to qualify under the provisions of UOCAVA in this state, a voter must be a legal resident of North Carolina. Citizens covered by UOCAVA include:

  • A member of the active or reserve components of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard of the United States who is on active duty.
  • A member of the Merchant Marine, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, or the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.
  • A member of the National Guard or state militia unit who is on activated status.
  • A spouse or dependent of a uniformed services member as listed above.
  • U.S. citizens residing outside the United States.

Forms

UOCAVA voters may use the following forms to register and/or request an absentee ballot:

A military-overseas voter need only apply for an absentee ballot by one method; either the FPCA or the FWAB, but not both. Generally speaking, the FWAB serves as a backup to the FPCA. For most voters the FPCA is the best option. FWAB users will need to reference the UOCAVA Election Notice for a list of candidates running.

Previously registered UOCAVA voters may also use the State Absentee Ballot Request Form to request an absentee ballot.

For more information on absentee voting for UOCAVA voters, click here .

To view the 2020 General Election notice required under UOCAVA, click here.

 

What is a MAT?

A Multipartisan Assistance Team, or “MAT” is a group appointed by the New Hanover County Board of Elections to provide assistance with absentee-by-mail voting to voters living at assisted-living facilities.

MAT visits help facilities ensure compliance with N. C. General Statute §163-226.3(a)(4). According to this statute, the following individuals are legally prohibited from providing absentee assistance to voters: owners, managers, directors, and employees of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or rest homes (“facilities”). Violation of this law is a Class I felony [N.C.G.S. § 163-226.3].

In recognition of the fact that some facility residents and patients may not have access to a near relative or legal guardian to provide them with assistance, MATs ensure that facility residents are provided lawful assistance in voting. The makeup of MAT teams includes, at minimum, two voters whose voter registration is affiliated with two different political parties (or, in the alternative, those who were unanimously appointed by a bipartisan County Board of Elections) who are trained to provide absentee voting assistance.

What services do MATs offer?

MATs offer two major services:

  • Requesting an absentee-by-mail ballot
    • To receive an absentee ballot, a State Absentee Ballot Request Form must be completed. MATs provide this form and may help fill it out if necessary. The MAT will deliver the completed form back to the Board of Elections office, and the ballot will be mailed to the voter in the following days.
  • Casting an absentee-by-mail ballot
    • Once a mail-in absentee ballot has been requested, the ballot will arrive in the mail. MATs can help with marking the ballot, completing the return envelope and serving as witnesses to the act of voting.

Who can schedule a MAT visit?

If you are a voter living in a facility and would like to schedule a MAT visit, contact the activity coordinator of your facility. If you do not know who the activity coordinator is, or if there is no activity coordinator, talk to staff or management at your facility. These representatives can use the information below to schedule a MAT visit for any residents who are in need of these resources.

Schedule a MAT Visit

If you are a facility representative, such as an activity coordinator, who would like to schedule a MAT visit for your facility CLICK HERE.

Once the request has been submitted, a New Hanover County Board of Elections representative will be in touch with process information and scheduling.

Board of Elections: 230 Government Center Drive, Suite 38 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7330 • Fax 910-798-7295