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Politics
Follow the latest news and information about voting and the 2020 election, including essential information about how to vote during a pandemic and more.

Step By Step: How To Vote Absentee By-Mail In North Carolina

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With the coronavirus causing many of us to stay away from crowds, an unprecedented number of people are expected to vote absentee for the Nov. 3 election. Are you voting absentee by-mail for the first time? Do you have questions about how to do it and want to make sure you do it right so your ballot is accepted? Follow this step-by-step guide.

First, collect your absentee ballot. (Want to know how to request one? Do that online here, or by submitting a completed request form via mail, email, fax or in person to your county board of elections.)

You'll receive a ballot like the one below.

Make sure you follow directions and mark each vote with a black ball point pen. Fill in each oval completely to the left of your selection.

Your ballot will come with an envelope. In Mecklenburg County, it looks like this on the front:

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And the envelope will look like this on the back:

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The back of the envelope is where you find the most important information needed to sign and submit your absentee ballot.

After you have completed your ballot, you'll get to tend to all the important details. 

Step 1: Find a witness. Just one.

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There are a few requirements: The main one is that the person must be 18 years or older.

Your witness cannot be an owner, manager, director or employee of a hospital, clinic, nursing home or rest home in which you are a patient or resident.

It cannot be someone who holds any federal, state or local elective office. It also cannot be a campaign manager or treasurer for any candidate or political party.

Your witness will confirm that you are enclosing your completed ballot in the envelope. A witness should not observe so closely that they will see what votes are marked. All that is required is that the witness sees that the voter is voting the ballot. Social distancing for this step is not only permitted, it is encouraged!

Step 2: Sign the envelope.

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You are certifying that you are registered to vote and that it is your ballot enclosed.

Step 3: Have your witness sign the envelope.

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Make sure the witness prints his or her name, lists a home address, and then signs in the box.

Step 4 (if needed): If someone helped you mark your ballot, your voter assistant must also sign.

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You only need to do this if someone helped you mark your ballot or mail it. Otherwise, you can leave it blank.

Step 5: Review the requirements on the side of the envelope to make sure you have done everything correctly.

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Step 6: Return your ballot.

If you are mailing it, make sure to affix a 55-cent stamp to your envelope so that it is delivered in the self-addressed envelope. It must be postmarked by Nov. 3, Election Day, and received by Nov. 6.

If you prefer to return it in person, you can do so at your county board of elections office during business hours, or at an early voting site Oct. 15-31. Find early voting locations and operation times here. If returning in person, it must be received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 3, Election Day.

Step 7: Check to make sure your ballot has been received and accepted.

You can track the status of your ballot -- whether it is still in route via mail and whether it has been accepted -- at the State Board of Elections site here.

If your ballot is not accepted, you can still vote in person if it is too close to Election Day to submit another absentee ballot. However, do not show up to the polls on Election Day to vote again if you have already submitted your absentee ballot. It is a felony to vote twice.