How to request an absentee ballot
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and response the North Carolina State Board of Elections is reminding North Carolinians that all voters can vote by mail during every election, casting a ballot without leaving the comfort of home. No excuse is necessary. The State Board Office and Task Force are discussing ways to make voting by mail easier, while making sure that the 100 county boards of elections stand ready to process an expected increase in mail-in ballots. If you, or someone you know, will be unavailable to vote in person, there is information you need to know to ensure your vote is counted.
For active duty military, their family members, and U.S. citizens living abroad:
You will need to go to FVAP.gov or ncsbe.gov/voting-options/military-overseas-voting and follow the absentee ballot instructions to receive an absentee ballot. If you have questions about that process, you can call us at (828) 250-4200 or visit buncombecounty.org/vote.
For all others wishing to receive an absentee ballot:
Anyone else wishing to request an absentee ballot may do so for any reason as long as they complete a 2020 North Carolina Absentee Ballot Request Form. If a voter is unable to print the form at the link provided, they may pick one up at the election services office, or call (828) 250-4200 and we will mail one. The voter or the voter’s near relative must return it one of the following ways:
- Mail it to: P.O. Box 7468, Asheville, NC 28802
- Hand deliver it to the dropbox located in the entryway of our office at 77 McDowell St., Asheville, 28801
- Email the form to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fax the form to (828) 250-6262
The deadline to return the completed Absentee Ballot Request Form is Tuesday, October 27, 2020, at 5 p.m. We are currently accepting absentee request forms and voters are encouraged to return the form earlier than the deadline.
Note: There is no need to complete multiple absentee request forms.
New: As of Sept. 1, 2020, North Carolina voters may request an absentee ballot completely online.
The State Board of Elections has collaborated with Democracy Live to introduce the online Absentee Ballot Request Portal to assist any North Carolina registered voter in requesting an absentee ballot. The portal also allows military and overseas (UOCAVA) voters to request and return their absentee ballot online.
How to return your absentee ballot
Once your N.C. Absentee Ballot Request Form has been received, an absentee ballot will be sent out. Ballots will be mailed out starting Sept. 4, 2020. Returned absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, and received by Nov. 12, at 5 p.m. They may also be returned in person to our office (by 5 p.m. on Nov. 3) but only by the voter or a near relative. Ballots may also be returned to any early voting site, but not to a polling location on Election Day. Ballots returned at an early voting site must be delivered to the election official at the check in station.
New: We now have a drop off area in our parking lot where absentee ballots can be returned. Simply follow the signs to the side of the building and an absentee specialist will come out to assist you. The drop off will be open through Election Day (Nov. 3), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
For more information about absentee voting, visit the North Carolina Board of Elections website.
Special Note: For the Nov. 3, 2020 General Election, only one witness will be required when voting an absentee by-mail ballot.
Near relative exceptions
From Oct. 28-Nov. 2, a voter’s near relative may come into the office during our office hours, weekdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m., to fill out an absentee request form for a voter who is sick or disabled who did not previously request an absentee ballot. The request will be processed immediately and the ballot handed to the near relative to take to the voter. These ballots have the same deadlines as stated above.
The following qualify as a near relative: spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, in-laws, stepparent, stepchild, or verifiable legal guardian.
Session Law 2019-239 made several changes to the absentee voting process. Changes include:
- An absentee request form is now valid only if returned to the county board of elections by the voter, the voter’s near relative or legal guardian, or a Multi-partisan Assistance Team (MAT).
- If a voter needs help completing the request form due to blindness, disability, or inability to read or write, and a near relative or legal guardian is not available, the voter may get help from another person, who must list their name and address on the form.
Tips for absentee voters from the NC State Board of Elections
- Request and return your ballot as soon as possible. Ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day. However, we recommend putting them in the mail at least a week before the election, or Oct. 27.
- Follow the instructions carefully and complete all required fields on the absentee ballot return envelope.
- Track your ballot.
- If you receive a ballot by mail but decide to vote in person instead, simply shred and discard your absentee ballot.
For any additional information or questions contact us at (828) 250-4200.