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Voting with an Absentee Ballot

Photo courtesy of The News & Observer

Voting is one of the most important things citizens can do for their country. Traditionally, citizens vote in person at a designated polling station, however, many citizens also rely on absentee ballots to cast their votes. Absentee ballots are for those who need an alternative way of voting, such as voting in a different location, by mail, by proxy, etc. Alternative ways of voting vary between states because there is no federal mandate over it. This article will be focusing on how absentee voting works in North Carolina and how to register for an absentee ballot by mail.

How do you request an absentee ballot? You can fill out a virtual form at the Absentee Ballot Request Portal. Once the request form is approved, it can take up to ten days for your ballot to reach you. The deadline for completing this request form in time for the election is Oct. 27 at 5 p.m.

In some states, voters must make a request based on special circumstance or reason. In North Carolina, this is not the case: as long as you are a registered voter in the state, you are allowed to request an absentee ballot. As the pandemic continues, voting by mail will be critical for those who are at risk. According to Pew Research Center, the trend for voting by mail has been exponentially increasing since the 1996 primary elections. When requesting an absentee ballot, you must fill out some personal information. This information can include your date of birth, driver’s license number and/or the last four digits of your social security number (SSN). Currently, ballots are being distributed to voters, and a witness must be present when you cast your vote. Your witness does not have to see who you’re voting for. You and your witness must sign the outside of the envelope, and you must either drop it off at your respective county board of elections office or mail it back to them. If you decide to mail your ballot, you can track it through the BallotTrax portal.

When it arrives at the county board of elections, the ballot is verified by the State Board Investigation Division, and if deemed falsified is considered a Class I felony. If there are any discrepancies, they will be examined. Some things that would bring the ballot into question are incomplete information from the voter or witness, mistakes and duplicate ballots. If you are a registered voter and wish to have your ballot sent to Meredith, update your mailing address. Make sure that your information matches up, or you risk your ballot being rejected. The final day for an absentee ballot to be received is Nov. 6, but it must be postmarked by Nov. 3, Election Day. The safest way to make sure your ballot is received and on time is to send it in early.

While you are waiting for your ballot to arrive, consider attending an election session at Meredith to learn about how the election will affect you at a local and state level. Each session is led by Dr. David McLennan, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Meredith Poll. Registration for the series of political discussions can be found here.

By Jeanine Carryl, Staff Writer


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