As Polls Open, NC Rolls Out Expanded Curbside Voting to Combat Pandemic

Voters wait in line to cast their ballots at an early voting site located at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. (Image for Cardinal & Pine by Alvin Jacobs Jr.)

By Sarah Ovaska

October 16, 2020

The pandemic has forced state officials to open the door for more North Carolinians to use a curbside voting typically reserved for a select few.

Curbside isn’t just about picking up takeout food or pizza in 2020. It’s also an option for that most essential of activities in our democracy: voting.

Curbside voting is offered at every single one of North Carolina’s early voting sites and at Election Day precincts for those worried about whether they’ll be able to physically wait in line, get into a polling place, or have concerns about serious complications if they contract COVID-19. 

In non-pandemic election years, curbside voting is typically reserved for those unable to make it into a polling place unassisted or because of disability or age.

RELATED: Cardinal Votes: Your Guide to Voting in North Carolina in 2020

But this year, state election officials expanded the definition of disability to include those who are also at high-risk of serious complications if they contract COVID-19, and who may be reluctant to enter an enclosed space like a voting precinct.

And if you’re sick, you can also use curbside voting. Those with COVID-19 symptoms, such as coughing or fever, can pull up from their car. IF there’s a chance you could be infected with COVID-19, your fellow voters will surely thank you for using the curbside option.

Here’s the State Board of Election’s list of those entitled to vote curbside:

  • Those unable to enter the polling place due to age or physical or mental disabilities, such as agoraphobia
  • People with medical conditions that put them at increased risk of COVID-19
  • Those unable to wear a mask because of medical, behavioral conditions, or disability
  • Someone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

The voting rights group, Democracy NC said they’ve already heard from voters encountering longer than normal demand for curbside voting in the first few days of early voting. They encourage patience as election workers adjust to the changing situation. They ask anyone facing issues to call a hotline staffed by election protection experts at 888-OUR-VOTE (888-687-8683).

In New Hanover County, for example, election workers added more staff to aid with curbside voting as a large number of voters drove up to cast ballots by the curb.

The demand for curbside voting is likely to be higher this year than others, given the threat of COVID-19 and how it disproportionally affects older Americans.

So, if you or someone you care about is nervous about entering a polling place because of physical limitations or out of concerns about COVID-19, pull up to the curb and exercise your right to vote that way.

Whatever you do, just vote.


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