Absentee “Mail-In” Ballots
More people voted by mail during the 2020 Election than ever before due to COVID-19.
Check out the information below to learn how to vote by mail using an absentee ballot. There are more restrictions for receiving assistance and for witnesses if you live in a facility. View the section on “Voting from a facility,” to learn more about getting help with voting if you live in a facility.
Requesting a mail-in Ballot
If you plan to vote by mail, you need to request your absentee ballot as soon as possible. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5 p.m. on the Tuesday before Election Day.
Two ways to request an absentee ballot
- Download the form and return by email, fax or mail to your county Board of Elections.
- Make your request online, using the online portal.
If you need help filling out the form, you can ask a close family member to make the request for you. If you aren’t able to download and print the form, call the NC Board of Elections or County Board of Elections to send you one.
If you live in a facility and need help requesting a mail in ballot, call the Board of Elections to request a multipartisan assistance team (MAT) visit.
Completing a mail-in ballot
Once you are ready to vote, you will need to find a witness to be present while you mark your ballot. Your witness should see that you mark your ballot, but not how you vote. Anyone over the age of 18 can serve as a witness except for a candidate, unless that person is a near relative. (Please note: if you live in a facility, the rules are different for you. Skip this section and read “Voting from a Facility” instead.)
You can also ask someone to help you mark your ballot if you need to for your disability. This person can be any person you choose, unless you live in a facility (see below). No one should tell you how to vote.
It is extremely important that you fill out the ballot exactly as instructed. If you do not wish to select a candidate for an office, leave it blank.
Do not select more than one candidate for each office; your vote will not be counted.
Double check that you have followed all the rules for absentee voting:
- You have one witness.*
- That witness is a near relative or legal guardian.
- You signed your name and info on the back of the return envelope.
- Your witness signed the back of the return envelope in the witness section.
- If your witness also helped you complete your ballot, they also signed the required information on the return envelope AND the witness section.
*For the 2020 election only, you only need to have one witness.
Accessible online absentee ballot
Beginning in the 2020 general election, NC voters who use screen readers are now able to vote using the accessible online ballot.
You can request an accessible absentee ballot using the online NC absentee ballot portal. Select Option 3 – Accessible Ballot. To learn more about how the accessible absentee ballot works, you can complete a practice ballot.
How to vote using the accessible ballot:
- Once you have received a notification that your ballot is ready, click on this link: https://votebymail.ncsbe.gov/app/ada/lookup.
- Enter your voter identification information and select continue.
- Read the instructions for completing the ballot.
- Select a candidate by selecting the checkbox for the candidate’s name.
- Remove a selection by selecting the checked box again.
- Vote for a qualified write-in candidate who is not listed on the ballot by selecting the checkbox for WRITE-IN. Then type the candidate’s name in the space.
Get a Witness/Assistant Signature
As with a paper mail-in ballot, you will need someone to serve as a witness for the electronic absentee ballot. That person needs to complete the Witness Section completely.
If you have any help with filling out the ballot, indicate that as well and fill out the Voter Assistance Section completely.
- Review the Voter’s Signature page and sign and fill it out completely.
- Review the Witness Signature page completely and have the witness provide a signature.
- Review the Voter Assistance Signature page and have the person helping you sign that page. That person must sign this page even if they were also the witness.
- The same person can witness and assist with your ballot.
The deadline to complete and submit the accessible ballot online is 5 p.m. on Election Day.
Additional information on accessible voting
Much more information about the voting options for voters with disabilities, including help for those in care facilities, curbside voting, requesting ballots in alternative formats like large print, etc. can be found at ncsbe.gov/voting/help-voters-disabilities
If you are blind or visually impaired and need assistance with any aspect of voting, please first contact your county board of elections. If you are not familiar with your county’s board of election, you may find them using vt.ncsbe.gov/BOEInfo/. You may also contact the ADA Coordinator, at ADACoordinator@ncsbe.gov, (919) 805-1302, 6400 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-6400.
Returning your ballot
Return your ballot by mail by the deadline.
Your ballot must be postmarked by a certain day. Not all municipalities offer absentee-by-mail voting. Visit the 2021 Municipal Voter Tool to determine whether absentee voting is available in your municipality.
See an overview of the 2021 municipal elections.
- We strongly recommend you return your ballot as soon as possible to make sure it arrives on time.
- If you have a disability and need help mailing your ballot you can ask a near relative to take your sealed envelope to the closest USPS drop box / mailbox. That person must sign the Voter Assistance Certification on the back of the envelope.
People who can NOT mail your ballot
- A candidate for election in any office unless they are your near relative or legal guardian.
- The owner, manager, director or employee of a hospital, clinic, nursing home, or rest home where you live.
- Anyone who holds any federal, state, or state elective office.
- Anyone who works in a political party or organization, or who is a campaign manager or treasurer for any candidate or political party.
Return your absentee ballot in person
- You can return your ballot to your county board of elections office, or to a one stop early voting site.
- You cannot return your ballot to a polling place on election day.
- You can track the status of your mail-in ballot here.
Voting from a facility
People in facilities face strict limitations on who may provide necessary assistance to cast an absentee ballot. If you do not have a near relative to help you request a ballot or to serve as a witness when you cast your vote, you will need to ask your facility to schedule a multi-partisan assistance team (MAT) visit. MAT is a team of two people from two different parties trained to help you vote. They are the only other people besides near family members who can help you vote from a facility. You can also request a MAT visit yourself by calling your county board office. The people who work in your facility are not allowed to help you.
If you request a MAT visit and there are none available in your county or they are not available to visit your facility, call DRNC’s voter hotline at 888-WEVOTE2.
Visit the State Board of Elections website for more information on absentee ballots and mail-in voting.
NC Board of Elections: 919-733-7173
View Frequently Asked Questions about mail-in voting.