Already, more North Carolinians vote before Election Day than they do on the day itself.

The state’s one-stop early voting system is well-known and loved. But another convenient early-voting procedure is often overlooked: absentee voting by mail.

Here’s a guide to absentee voting by mail in North Carolina.

What is absentee voting by mail?

Absentee voting, in general, refers to voting early, before Election Day. Technically, one-stop early voting is a form of absentee voting.

Absentee by mail voting allows North Carolinians to request a ballot to be sent to them at home, and then mailed in.

Who can vote absentee in North Carolina?

Any registered voter in North Carolina can vote absentee by mail.

This method is often used by people who are homebound or frequently out of the county, but there is no “excuse” or reason needed.

How do you vote absentee?

It’s super easy.

  1. Request an absentee ballot by mail. You have to fill out this form and email it or snail mail it to your county board of elections. You can find the physical address and email address for your county elections board here. They need to receive the application by 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before Election Day.
  2. Fill out the ballot. The county elections board will send you a packet with a ballot, instructions, an application for voting absentee and an envelope to send it all back in. You’ll need to fill out the ballot in the presence of two witnesses, or one witness if your witness is a notary public.
  3. Send the ballot back in. You must use the envelope they send you. Your county board of elections must receive your ballot by 5 p.m. on Election Day, so you’ll want to have it sent a few days before that.

A “near relative”1 is allowed to request a ballot on behalf of a voter who is unable to do it themselves. This person can also physically fill out the ballot for them, but the voter is supposed to direct the choices.

How many people vote absentee?

Only about 200,000 North Carolinians used absentee ballots by mail in the 2016 general election out of nearly 4.8 million votes cast.

That’s not very many. More people should be taking advantage of this super easy way to vote.

Cover photo of a rural North Carolina mailbox by Donald Lee Pardue via Flickr (Creative Commons)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here