A voter waits to cast a ballot at the Graham Civic Center polling location in Graham, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome) Elections, North Carolina
A voter waits to cast a ballot at the Graham Civic Center polling location in Graham, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

During the pandemic-ravaged 2020 elections, more than a million people voted by mail in North Carolina, a state record.

If you want to vote by mail, tomorrow is the last day to request your absentee ballot. Just make sure your county elections board gets your online request form by 5 p.m. Tuesday evening. 

During the pandemic-ravaged 2020 elections, more than a million people voted by mail in North Carolina, a state record. COVID cases may be lower now than then, but  voting by mail is expected to be a popular option again. 

Here’s what you need to know about voting by mail.

Request the ballot.

If you are registered to vote in NC, you can request an absentee ballot online through the NC Absentee Ballot Portal here. (You should get immediate confirmation of the receipt once you complete and submit the form.) You can also download the ballot, in either English or Spanish, fill it out and return it by mail, see below. 

You’ll need to provide your date of birth and one form of identification like your North Carolina driver license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

The state allows certain people to help you fill out and submit the form in some cases. To see who can help you, visit the NC Board of Elections website here. 

Fill it out.

To ensure your ballot is counted, follow the guidelines closely.

  • A notary public or two adult witnesses have to see your mark your ballot. 
  • Make sure you return the ballot in the envelope that came with with it and properly seal it. Don’t send anything else in the envelope.
  • Sign your name on the back of the envelope.
  • Have your witnesses sign the envelope, too, and print their name, and provide their full address on the back.
  • Alternatively, you may have the application certified by one public notary instead of two witnesses.
  • If you need assistance, your near relative or verifiable legal guardian may mark the ballot at your direction or help you fill out the envelope. If your near relative or verifiable legal guardian is unavailable to assist you, you may receive assistance from another person.

See the full list of NCBOE requirements here.

Return it.

To return by mail, send it to your county board of election. The ballot return envelope must include the proper postage, be postmarked by May 17, Election Day, and be received by May 20 at 5 p.m.

The NC Board of Elections “strongly recommend[s]” that you mail your ballot as early as possible to avoid post office delays. 

You can also drop the ballot off at your county board of elections in person, but that deadline is 5 p.m. on May 17. You can also submit it at your early voting location. 

“According to state law, only you, or your near relative or legal guardian may mail or hand-deliver the Return Envelope,” the NC BOE says.

For further information on returning your ballot, visit the state elections board website site here.