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Vote Absentee by mail


Absentee voting is comprised of two methods by which registered voters may cast ballots other than the traditional method of appearing in person and casting a ballot on the day of the election.


Absentee By Mail And Absentee One-Stop


  • In the office of the county board of elections, or

  • In another location within the county designated as an Absentee One-Stop voting site.

The deadline for persons to register in order to be eligible to vote in the November
General election is 5:00 p.m. on the twenty-fifth day before the election, if submitted
in person. If registering by mail, it must be postmarked at least 25 days before the
election (N.C. Gen. Stat. §163-82.6 (c1, 2)). A prospective voter must be registered
to vote in the county in which he or she is attempting to vote. For example, if a voter
is registered and resides in County A, the voter may not vote at a site in County B.

Absentee One-Stop (No-Excuse)

Absentee One-Stop voting has been available in county board of elections offices for years and permits qualified voters to vote absentee in person at the county board of elections. Since the November 2000 General Election, voting by Absentee One-Stop no longer required an excuse.

Absentee one-stop voting begins the third Wednesday before an election and continues until 1:00 p.m. on the last Saturday before that election.

Additional Absentee One-Stop Voting Sites

North Carolina voters are able to vote by Absentee One-Stop, with no excuse, at all county boards of elections offices, during set hours, for the 17 days prior to elections voting period.

The absentee voting law was amended to provide for “one or more sites in that county for absentee ballots to be applied for and cast,” N.C. Gen. Stat. §163-227.2(g).

Please refer to, under “County Offices” for a listing of the physical locations and telephone numbers of county boards of elections offices in North Carolina and a listing of the additional Absentee One-Stop Voting sites throughout the State.

Each county board of elections is responsible for the operation of each of its Absentee One-Stop Voting sites and are required to submit a Plan for Implementation to the State Board of Elections for approval. Counties must ensure that each additional site has:


  • Location in a public building

  • Adequate training for staff

  • Access to registration records

  • A method for verifying voter registration

  • Ensure against duplicate voting by a voter

  • Adequate ballot supply and styles

  • Ballots with identifiers for retrievability

  • Accurate set up of the voting enclosure

  • Observance of the buffer zone boundary for electioneering

  • Provisions for political party observers in place

  • A plan and affidavits for curbside voting

  • Provisions for voter assistance

  • Adequate supply of challenge forms

  • Implementation of a security plan

Political parties may designate two observers to be present at each one-stop site. Written challenges to a voter’s registration may be entered against a voter at a one-stop site by the election official or by another registered voter who resides in the same precinct as the voter being challenged (N.C. Gen. Stat. §163-227.2(g)). A registered voter of the same precinct as the absentee voter may also enter a written challenge to an absentee ballot between the hours of noon and 5:00 p.m. on Election Day (N.C. Gen. Stat. §163-89).

Plans for the security of the one-stop sites, the ballots, the voting equipment and registration records have been developed by each county board of elections providing additional one-stop sites and approved by the State Board of Elections. These procedures are necessary so that if a challenge to an absentee ballot is sustained or if an irregularity is proven the integrity of the election is preserved.

Voting "No Excuse" Absentee One-Stop

When appearing at the site to vote, the voter must state his or her name, residence address and complete the application to vote absentee. The vote is then cast on a M100 system, the voted ballot(s) are returned to the election official or placed in the voting equipment. Persons who are not registered in a county may register and vote during early voting

Voting Equipment

Voting equipment will vary from county to county for the Absentee One-Stop sites. County boards of elections should be contacted for more information.

State Board Of Elections Oversight

Staff of the State Board of Elections monitors the additional Absentee One-Stop Voting sites across the State to ensure that required procedures are followed.

How to Request an Absentee Ballot

To receive a mail-in absentee ballot for an election, a voter or the voter's near-relative* or legal guardian must use the State Absentee Ballot Request form to request the ballot. Request forms are available at the State Board of Elections office, here on the State Board of Elections website, and at county boards of election offices. The form can be reproduced.

*A "near-relative" means a spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in­

law, daughter-in-law,  son-in-law, stepparent,  or stepchild.


A signed and completed State Absentee Ballot Request Form must be received by your county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the last Tuesday prior to the date of the election for which the ballot is being requested.

A signed and completed request form may be mailed, faxed, e-mailed or delivered in person to the county board of elections office.

Note: A request form must be received for each election that a voter desires to vote a by-mail absentee ballot.

Completing the State Absentee Ballot Request Form

The State Absentee Ballot Request Form may only be signed by the voter or a near-relative or legal guardian of the voter. When completing the form, the voter or the requester must sign and provide the voter's name, residential address, date of birth, and an identification number for the voter (i.e., NC DMV driver license number, NC OMV identification card number, or the last four digits of the voter's social security number.) If an identification number is not provided on the form, then the requester must submit one of the following documents listed below along with the completed request form:

  • A current utility bill

  • A bank statement

  • A government check

  • A paycheck

  • Other government documents containing name and address.


If a person other than the voter (a near relative or legal guardian) makes the request, then the requester must also provide his or her name and residential address on the request form. If requesting a ballot for a partisan primary, and the voter is registered Unaffiliated, the voter or requester should indicate the ballot preference for the voter. Finally, the voter or requester must provide the address where the absentee balloting materials are to be mailed, if different than the voter's residential address.


Note: If a registered North Carolina voter (including eligible dependents) is absent due to military service or is currently living overseas, then only the actual voter should complete the State Absentee Ballot Request Form.

Receiving a Ballot

If a valid request is received, the county board of elections office will mail the voter absentee balloting materials to the address provided on the request form when absentee ballots are available. Absentee ballots are available:

  • 50 days prior to the date of a statewide primary election, county bond election or any other election, except those listed below;

  • 60 days prior to the date of a statewide general election;

  • 30 days prior to municipal elections.


The absentee ballot packet you receive will consist of the following materials:

  • A blank official absentee ballot

  • Absentee voting instructions

  • Absentee Application and Certificate

  • Absentee Ballot return envelope

Voting On Absentee Ballot

In the presence of two witnesses (or one witness if the witness is a notary-public), the voter should mark the ballot, or cause it to be marked according to his or her instructions. Once the ballot is marked, the voter or a person assisting the voter must seal the ballot in the container-return envelope and must then complete the Absentee Application and Certificate on the back of the ballot container-return envelope. The voter 's witnesses must complete and sign  the  envelope  in  the  space  designated   as   Witnesses' Certification (or Alternative Notary-Witness Certification, if using a notary-public as the witness) . If someone assisted the voter, the assister must sign and date the certificate as well.

Returning a Voted Ballot

Once the Absentee Application and Certificate is fully executed with all relevant signatures, the voted ballot (contained inside of the container-return envelope) must be returned to the county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the date of the election. The envelope may be mailed or delivered in person to the board of elections ' office. Only the voter or the voter's near relative (spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent , stepchild or qualified legal guardian) may deliver an absentee ballot in person.


An absentee ballot may also be delivered to an election official at a one-stop voting site during any time that site is open for voting. Ballots received after 5:00 p.m. on election day will be timely ONLY if they are received by mail and bear a postmark that is dated on or before the date of the election and are received no later than 5:00 p.m. on the third day following the election.

Assistance for Voters Living in Facilities

Some voters find it necessary to vote by mail-in absentee ballot because they are elderly, limited in their mobility, or have a disability. This group of voters includes persons living at facilities such as nursing homes. Oftentimes, these voters require assistance in completing the forms or marking the ballot. The first preference, according to the law, is for the voter to receive assistance from a near relative or guardian. But some voters, particularly voters who live in facilities, may not have a near relative or guardian available to provide that assistance. It is important to know that employees of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or rest homes are prohibited by law from providing assistance with absentee voting. So, voters who live in facilities such as nursing homes or rest homes face special challenges in casting a mail-in absentee ballot. But here's the good news: In every county, an impartial team called a "Multipartisan Assistance Team" is available to visit facilities such as nursing homes in order to provide assistance with mail-in absentee voting. Click here for more  information  about  MultiPartisan  Assistance Teams

General Information

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.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB)

The military-overseas voter may also elect to vote a FWAB in lieu of a regular ballot. In North Carolina, military-overseas voters may use a FWAB application to register to vote, request an absentee ballot, and vote for all federal, state and local contest items for which the voter is eligible. The FWAB links above go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program, where voters will be led through a series of automated questions to set up the FWAB application.

The voter can vote for any ballot items that would be on the regular ballot, however, the voter must obtain the choices for those ballot items. The voter can either obtain this information by contacting his or her local county. board of elections, or by looking up his or her sample ballot on the State Board of Election main page. The FWAB is an official military-overseas ballot, so if you submit a FWAB, your county board of elections will not send you a regular ballot.

Returning The Ballot

The military-overseas voter may return his or her voted ballot, including a FWAB, via mail, fax or email. The deadline to return military-overseas ballots is by the close of polls on Election Day (7:30p.m. EST). If the ballot is received later than that hour, it will not be timely, unless the voter transmitted the ballot by 12:01 a.m. on the day of the election (voter time) and the county board receives the ballot by the last business day before the county canvass. The county canvass is normally conducted 10 days after the General Election and 7 days after other elections. When returning the ballot by mail, no postmark is required.

Before returning the ballot, the military-overseas voter must sign the Affirmation Of Military-Overseas Voter. The affirmation will be included in the instruction materials that are included with the blank ballot. If the balloting materials are mailed, then the affirmation is also on the back of the container­ return envelope. Detailed instructions on returning the voted ballot are included with the absentee balloting materials sent to the voter.

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