North Carolina: Make a Plan to Vote!

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7 mins read

 North Carolina 2020 Elections 

Make a plan to vote as early as possible, using whatever option works best for you. Your plan could be to request a ballot right away and return it by mail or at your local county board of elections. Your plan could be to vote early in-person and mark the date on your calendar.

Election laws and practices vary from state to state. In North Carolina, the NC State Board of Elections (NCSBE) administers and oversees elections. Official NC elections information and guidance is available at NCSBE.gov. In NC, voting by mail is called “Absentee by Mail.” Voting in person at early voting is sometimes called “One Stop Early Voting” (because you can also register to vote) and called “absentee in-person” (because you are “absent” from election day).

First, are you registered to vote at your current address?

You can check your voter registration and find your polling place here: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/.

If you have an NC Driver’s License or DMV-ID card, you can register to vote or update your voter registration online at  http://payments.ncdot.gov.

If you do not have an NC Driver’s License or DMV-ID card, register to vote by completing the paper form, signing it, and mailing it to your county board of elections: https://s3.amazonaws.com/dl.ncsbe.gov/Voter_Registration/NCVoterRegForm_06W.pdf .

Vote by Mail 

With cuts to the US Post Office and slower delivery, many NC voters are concerned about being able to vote absentee-by-mail. Voting-by-mail is a proven, secure and effective way for people to make their voices heard and it’s an especially important option during a pandemic. 

If you would like to vote absentee-by-mail, we recommend you request your absentee ballot now and return your voted ballot as soon as practical. 

Typically, only about 5% of NC voters vote absentee-by-mail, so this year will be different. To vote by mail, it will be important to do so early.

Absentee-by-mail ballots will start being mailed out by the NCSBE on September 4. If you request your ballot now, you could vote in September.  That way, there will be plenty of time to make sure your ballot was received and accepted by the NC Board of Elections. 

Requesting your absentee-by-mail ballot:

To request an absentee ballot, fill out this form:  https://s3.amazonaws.com/dl.ncsbe.gov/Forms/NCAbsenteeBallotRequestForm.pdf 

After completing the request form and signing it, you may return it to your county board of elections by fax, email, mail, or in person. You may complete the form, sign it, take a picture of it and email it to your board of elections.

Find your county board of elections here: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/BOEInfo/ 

The absentee request form must be printed, signed, and returned to the voter’s county board of elections BY THE VOTER or the voter’s immediate family. 

Returning your absentee-by-mail ballot:

Your voted ballot must be mailed or delivered in person to your county board of elections office or an open early voting site during the early voting period.

Unless there is a law change before the election, absentee ballots in NC can not be returned to a polling site on Election Day. NC also does not have “drop boxes” at this time. 

The voted ballot (placed inside the return envelope) must be returned to the county board of elections by 5 p.m. on Election Day.

FAQs about Vote by Mail: 

“How will I know if my absentee-by-mail ballot has been received and counted?”

In NC, you will be able to know if your absentee by-mail-ballot has been received and counted via the NCSBE web site. 

The NCSBE tracks this information in the Voter/Absentee Lookup tool, https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/

Following the directions on that link you will be able to review the status of your absentee-by mail-ballot.

“Can I vote in person even if I requested an absentee ballot?”

In NC, the answer is YES — if you have not yet returned your voted absentee-by-mail ballot, you may vote at an early voting polling site or at your precinct on election day. You may destroy your unvoted absentee-by -mail ballot once you have voted in person.

Early Voting 

If you want to vote in-person, we recommend voting early at Early Voting.   At early voting, you can vote at any early voting location in your county.  You can also register to vote, or update your address at early voting  and vote on the same day — that’s why it’s sometimes called “One Stop” early voting.   

The early voting period in North Carolina is October 15 – October 30. There are usually fewer people voting at the beginning of the early voting period, so go early to avoid the crowd. 

The NCSBE and your county board of elections will post all the early voting locations in your county. Some NC counties are still working on their early voting locations, so check back in a couple weeks for early voting locations or contact your county board of elections. 

Voting is our most fundamental right — because it’s through voting that we protect all of our rights. Make a plan to vote safe and vote early!

For more non-partisan information and printable resources on voting in North Carolina, go to https://www.ncvoter.org 

If you have problems or questions, you can call the NC non-partisan voter hotline at 888-OUR-VOTE.  

NOTE: Everything in this post is specific to North Carolina.  The NCSBE will be updating its website, so links may change.

Photo credit: Tiffany Tertipes via Unsplash


DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.


Aylett Colston is an attorney who is committed to restoring democracy in her home state of North Carolina. She practiced corporate and securities law for over 15 years, representing technology companies in mergers, acquisitions, venture capital investments, corporate finance, and equity compensation. She now focuses on fair elections in North Carolina and serves as the Political Action Chair for the Raleigh-Apex Branch of the NAACP.

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