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Early Voting Open in NC

As a reminder, ASNC is sharing information about voting in North Carolina during this election year through blog articles, social media posts, and other channels. Much attention will be paid this year to state primaries, state legislative races, and the national presidential election. As a nonprofit organization, ASNC does not become directly involved in elections or campaigns, but we do want you to understand your right to vote, how to vote, and where to get accurate and up-to-date information.


Voting in NC primaries

Early voting for the North Carolina primaries began at one-stop early voting sites across the state on Feb. 13 and will remain open until Saturday, Feb. 29. The primary Election Day is Tuesday March 3, and that is the final day to vote in the primaries.

As a reminder from previous articles, primaries determine which candidates will run from various parties in the general election. North Carolina has “semi-closed” primaries. If you are registered with a specific political party, you will vote with that partisan ballot, closed from other parties. Unaffiliated voters can vote for one registered party’s ballot.

The general election in November will elect a president; members of Congress; statewide officials including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor, and superintendent of public instruction; members of the NC General Assembly; and judges for the State Supreme Court and appellate courts. All of these elected officials and more have influence on issues related to autism, disabilities, education, health and human services, and rights. ASNC encourages you to understand when and how you can exercise your right to vote.


Where do I vote?

Early voting sites and regular voting site locations and hours may differ in your district.

For Early Voting: Please check with the State Board of Elections list of early voting locations to find one in your area.

For Election Day Voting on March 3: To check your registration and find your polling location for March 3, use the voter search tool on the SBOE website.


Can I register and vote the same day?

ONLY at one-stop early voting sites. To do so, you must attest to your eligibility by filling out the forms and also provide proof of residence such as your driver’s license with current address, an ID with address, utility bill, bank statement, etc. Please see the SBOE website for a full list of acceptable documents to prove residency.


Do I need photo identification to vote?

No photo identification is needed to vote in this primary in NC. [The only time you would need some identification is if you are not registered to vote and need to prove residency to register during one-stop early voting; see above.]


Absentee voting laws have changed. What do I NEED to know?

You can still vote absentee, but only the voter or near relative or verifiable guardians can request absentee ballots for someone else. The form must include an ID number for the voter: driver’s license number, non-operators ID number or last 4 digits of Social Security number. Only voters, guardians, near relatives, and the US mail can deliver completed absentee ballots. If you are disabled or cannot read or write you may get assistance with your absentee ballot, but the person giving assistance must have their name and address listed on the ballot. Owners and staff of care facilities are not allowed to assist with absentee ballots.

Because there are new rules about requesting, filling out and returning ballots, we recommend that you review and follow the instructions carefully as laid out by the SBOE. A full set of information and documents can be found on the SBOE website.

The request form must be received no later than 5 p.m. on the last Tuesday before the election. For the March primary, that is Tuesday, Feb. 25, and for the November general election, that would be Oct. 25. We recommend that you plan ahead: ballots are available 50 days ahead of the primary, 60 days ahead of the general election, and 30 days ahead of local elections.

Be sure to include your ID number (several options are available). Anyone assisting the voter must include their name and address. And again, if the near relative or guardian requested the ballot, their signature must be on the returned form along with the voter’s signature.

Your ballot must be marked in the presence of two witnesses (or one notary public), and then sealed into the container-return envelope (specifically for the ballot). The witnesses must complete the Absentee Application and Certificate on the back of the container-return envelope and sign it. Anyone assisting the voter must sign and date the envelope in the appropriate place as well.

Ballots can be mailed or delivered in person, but only the voter, guardian, or relative/near relative can deliver them in person. If delivered in person, ballots must be received by the county board of elections no later than 5 p.m. on the date of the election. If mailed, ballots must be postmarked on or before the date of the election and are only valid if received within three days after the election. Again, we urge you to plan ahead. It is also possible to deliver absentee voting materials to election officials at one-stop voting locations. Please see the SBOE website for more details on absentee and one-stop voting.

Please note: By federal law, those living overseas and, in the military, stationed out of the country have other options and other requirements for voting. Please consult the SBOE website for full information about absentee voting and voting for citizens living and working out of the country.


What if need assistance to vote? What if I live in a facility and don’t have a relative to request an absentee ballot?

By law, any voters are allowed to receive assistance from an immediate family member in the voting booth and with ballots. Voters who have physical disabilities, are illiterate, or are blind and are prevented by those conditions from getting in or out of the voting booth and filling out a ballot may request assistance from non-relatives (but not union reps, employers, or agents thereof).

Voting sites should be accessible to all voters, including those with disabilities.

Voters at all locations can also receive help to vote curbside at or in their vehicle if they encounter barriers or have difficulties leaving their vehicle to vote. The voter must swear an oath that they need to vote in this manner, but they are not required to show proof of a condition or disability.

People living in facilities can request help to vote absentee from Multipartisan Assistance Teams (MATs). These impartial groups are available in every county to visit facilities such as nursing homes to assist with mail-in absentee voting, which requires witnesses. Typically, the facility can contact the local board of elections to schedule a visit from the local MAT, but it’s helpful if the voter/residents ask about voting and having a MAT visit or if the facility asks residents what actions may have already started (like relatives requesting a ballot), as employees at facilities are prohibited from becoming directly involved in the voting activities of their residents. There is a checkbox on the absentee ballot request to ask whether assistance is needed and the name of the facility, as well.

For more information on all of these options, please see the SBOE website.

You can call or email the SBOE to report problems with voting accessibility or to ask questions about accessible voting at 866-522-4723 (toll-free), 919-814-0700, or elections.sboe@ncsbe.gov.


Where can I find more information about voting and the candidates?

DRNC has launched a guide titled Access the Vote to make voting and elections in North Carolina accessible. The site includes easy to understand information about voting and reporting election problems. In addition, they issued a survey to some of the candidates running in the primary. You can read or hear these candidates’ responses under “2020 NC Primary Guide” on the site.


Have questions about public policy or advocating? Contact Jennifer Mahan, Director of Public Policy at ASNC, at 919-865-5068 or by email at jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org.

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