Voters return to the polls this fall for midterm elections.
As a reminder, there are three ways to vote in North Carolina: from home, in person, and in a facility. North Carolina has made it easier to vote from home with updates to the absentee voting laws, but you can also vote in person at early voting or on election day.
As a nonprofit organization, the Autism Society of North Carolina 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.
Legal decision supports the rights of people with disabilities to choose who helps them vote
A federal court issued an order that struck down state laws barring certain individuals from helping a voter request, complete, or submit an absentee ballot, if that voter needs help due to a disability.
As a result of that order, an absentee voter who needs assistance voting due to a disability generally may receive assistance from any person they choose. The only restrictions are that persons witnessing a ballot must be at least 18 years old and may not be a candidate (unless a person in a care facility asks a candidate to assist due to disability). Voters in care facilities may still request and use a Multipartisan Assistance Team (MAT), but they are not required to do so. They may receive assistance from the staff of the hospital, clinic, nursing home, or rest home where they are a patient or resident. They may also receive assistance from an elected official, political party officeholder, or candidate.
Voting at Home
North Carolina has long allowed for absentee voting by filling out a ballot at home and sending it in to be counted. Absentee ballots may be requested using a form from the state or county board of elections, which is available on the SBOE website or by written request to your local board of elections using a ballot request form. The ballot request form must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday Oct. 1. We recommend that you plan ahead: ballots can be requested beginning September 9. Learn more: https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting/vote-mail/detailed-instructions-vote-mail
A near relative or legal guardian may request a ballot on behalf of the voter. A near relative is the voter’s spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild. As a result of a legal decision in a recent lawsuit, if you need assistance requesting a ballot due to disability, you may choose any person to make that request for you.
- Follow the instructions on the form for providing proof of the voter’s information, including an ID number for the voter. A full set of instructions and documents can be found on the State Board of Elections website.
- 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 as well.
- Ballots can be mailed or delivered in person by whomever the voter chooses to help them deliver the ballot. 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.
Accessible Voting and Voting in a Facility
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, voters can 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 the request must start with the voter/residents, as owners and employees at facilities are often prohibited from becoming 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.
- If you are a person with a disability in a facility, you can request help from anyone of your choosing to assist you to request, complete, or submit an absentee ballot, including employees of the facility and elected officials or candidates. People with disabilities residing in a facility can request help from a MAT team, but it is not required.
Voting in Person
You can vote in person in your district at an early voting site from Thursday, October 20 thru Saturday, November 5, or at your polling place on Tuesday, November 8. Check with your local board of elections or the State Board of Elections website for information about early voting locations and times. If you plan to vote on November 8, be sure to check your voting location as some polling places may have changed.
When are we voting in North Carolina?
General election: Nov. 8
The general election in November will elect members of Congress, members of the NC General Assembly, judges for the State Supreme Court and appellate courts, local judges and prosecutors, county offices like Sherriff and county commissioners, and some city or town offices. 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.
How do I register to vote and when is the deadline?
The registration deadline is 25 days before each election: Oct. 14 for the general election in November.
To vote, you must be a citizen, at least 18 years of age, live in the county where you register, and reside there for 30 days before the date of the election. People with felony convictions must have completed their sentence, including probation or parole, before registering.
To register, you just need to fill out a voter registration form and mail it to the board of elections office in your county. (Find the address for your county online at https://vt.ncsbe.gov/BOEInfo.) You can download a registration form from the NC State Board of Elections (SBOE) website at www.ncsbe.gov or get a printed form at local county boards of election (Call for more information). The NC Division of Motor Vehicles has a free voter registration system available online.
To update your registration, you can use the same form and mail it to your current county board of elections, or you can use the online DMV voter registration system to update your address. If you have moved or are planning to move during the election year, please see the SBOE website for special instructions regarding relocations, moves, and residency requirements.
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 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 identification to vote?
No. You do not need identification to vote.
Have questions about public policy or advocating? Contact Jennifer Mahan, Director of Public Policy at ASNC, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NC State Board of Elections: www.ncsbe.gov
Disability Rights NC Voting Project: www.accessthevotenc.org
To report voting problems by phone:
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