Request an Absentee Ballot
Any qualified voter in NC may request to vote an absentee ballot by mail. To apply for an absentee ballot a voter or the voter’s near-relative* must complete the State Absentee Ballot Request Form found here. The Board of Elections must receive your completed and signed absentee ballot request no later than 5:00 p.m. the Tuesday prior to Election Day. Submit your absentee ballot request by:
- Email to email@example.com;
- Fax to 252-830-1157;
- Mail to PO Box 56, Greenville NC 27835; or,
- Hand delivery to the Elections Office.
*A "near-relative" means a spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild.
Completing the State Absentee Ballot Request Form
The State Absentee Ballot Request Form may only be signed by the voter or a near-relative or legal guardian of the voter. When completing the form, the voter or requestor must sign and provide the voter's name, residential address, date of birth, and an identification number for the voter (i.e., NC driver license number, NC identification card number, or the last four digits of the voter's social security number). If an identification number is not provided on the form, then the requestor must submit one of the following documents listed below along with the completed request form:
- Current utility bill;
- Bank statement;
- Government check;
- Paycheck; or,
- Other government documents containing name and address.
If a person other than the voter (a near relative or legal guardian) makes the request, then the requestor must also provide his or her name and residential address on the request form. If requesting a ballot for a Primary, and the voter is registered Unaffiliated, indicate the ballot preference for the voter. Finally, the voter or requestor must provide the address where the absentee balloting materials are to be mailed, if different than the voter's residential address.
Receiving a Ballot
If a valid request is received, the Board of Elections will mail the absentee balloting materials to the address provided on the request form when absentee ballots are available. Absentee ballots are available:
- 50 days prior to the date of a Statewide Primary, County Bond Election or any other election, except those listed below;
- 60 days prior to the date of a Statewide General Election;
- 30 days prior to Municipal Elections.
The absentee ballot packet you receive will consist of the following materials:
- A blank official absentee ballot
- Absentee voting instructions
- Absentee Application and Certificate (printed on return envelope)
- Absentee Ballot return envelope
Voting an Absentee Ballot
Mark the ballot following the instructions provided by the Board of Elections. You must mark the ballot in the presence of two witnesses (or one witness if the witness is a Notary-Public) that are at least 18 years of age and are not your employer, nor owners or employees of a care facility in which you are a resident. Once the ballot is marked, seal it in the return envelope and complete the Absentee Application and Certificate on the back of the return envelope. The voter’s witnesses must complete and sign the envelope in the space designated as Witnesses’ Certification (or Alternative Notary-Witness Certification, if using a Notary-Public as the witness). If someone assisted the voter, the assister must sign and date the certificate as well.
Returning a Voted Ballot
Once the Absentee Application and Certificate (on the return envelope) is fully executed with all relevant signatures, the voted ballot (contained inside of the return envelope) must be returned to the Board of Elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on Election Day. The envelope may be mailed or delivered in person to the Board of Elections office. Only the voter or voter's near relative (spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, stepchild or qualified legal guardian) may deliver an absentee ballot in person.
Ballots received after 5:00 p.m. on Election Day will be timely ONLY if they are received by mail and bear a postmark that is dated on or before the date of the election and are received no later than 5:00 p.m. on the third day following the election.
Military personnel, their families, and US citizens, who are living abroad, have special voting rights and ways to register to vote. These citizens have the choice of either requesting an absentee ballot by mail the same way as other registered voters, or they can apply to register and/or vote through special programs for military and overseas voters as described below.
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) is a federal law that requires states to allow certain voters who are absent from their county of residence to have special rights that provide an expedited means for them to register and vote by mail-in absentee ballot. In order to qualify under the provisions of UOCAVA, a voter must be a legal resident of NC. Citizens covered by UOCAVA include:
- A member of the active or reserve components of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard of the United States who is on active duty.
- A member of the Merchant Marine, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, or the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.
- A member of the National Guard or state militia unit who is on activated status.
- A spouse or dependent of a uniformed services member as listed above.
- US citizens residing outside the United States.
Special Voting Options for Military & Overseas Voters
The two special ways to register and vote for military and overseas voters are the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) and the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). The advantage of the FPCA is that the voter receives a full local ballot that includes all ballot choices, including local contest and ballot items. Meanwhile, the FWAB is a simpler option if the voter's main objective is to vote in prominent federal contests, such as the race for US President. However, a voter may vote for all contests (federal, state and local) for which he or she is eligible, but the voter must obtain information for local contests and ballot items in order to write in a choice for those items.
A military-overseas voter need only apply for an absentee ballot by one method; either the FPAC or the FWAB, but not both. Generally speaking, the FWAB serves as a backup to the FPCA. For most voters the FPCA is the best option.
Federal Voting Assistance Project (FVAP) links:
Where To Send the Request
- Email to ABSENTEE@ncsbe.gov;
- Fax to 252-830-1157; or,
- Mail to PO Box 56, Greenville NC 27835.
The request must be physically signed prior to submitting it to the Board of Elections. The deadline for individuals eligible under UOCAVA to register to vote and/or request an absentee ballot is 5:00 p.m. on the day prior to Election Day.
Only the voter may sign his or her FPCA or FWAB application. Family members may not sign these forms on the voter's behalf.
Requesting & Receiving a Ballot
When requesting a ballot, UOCAVA voters may elect to receive their balloting materials by mail, fax or email. Be sure to designate your transmittal preference on your FPCA application, and provide the appropriate contact information required to transmit the materials.
When official ballots are available: Ballot materials will be sent to you as soon as ballots are available for a given election. Absentee ballots are available 30 days prior to Municipal Elections, 50 days prior to Primaries, and 60 days prior to General Elections. For any other type of election, ballots will be available 50 days prior to the election. After submitting a FPCA, military-overseas voters will receive a ballot for any election for which they are eligible during the year that the request is received.
Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB)
The military-overseas voter may also elect to vote a FWAB in lieu of a regular ballot. In NC, military-overseas voters may use a FWAB application to register to vote, request an absentee ballot, and vote for all federal, state and local contest items for which the voter is eligible. The FWAB links above go to the Federal Voting Assistance Program, where voters will be led through a series of automated questions to set up the FWAB application.
The voter can vote for any ballot items that would be on the regular ballot; however, the voter must obtain the choices for those ballot items. The voter can either obtain this information by contacting the Board of Elections, or by looking up his or her sample ballot on the State Board of Elections main page. The FWAB is an official military-overseas ballot, so if you submit a FWAB, you will not be sent a regular ballot.
Returning the Ballot
The military-overseas voter may return his or her voted ballot, including a FWAB, via mail, fax or email. The deadline to return military-overseas ballots is by the close of polls on Election Day (7:30 p.m. EST). If the ballot is received later than that hour, it will not be timely, unless the voter transmitted the ballot by 12:01 a.m. on the day of the election (voter time) and the county board receives the ballot by the last business day before the county canvass. The county canvass is normally conducted 10 days after the election. When returning the ballot by mail, no postmark is required.
Before returning the ballot, the military-overseas voter must sign the Affirmation of Military-Overseas Voter. The affirmation will be included in the instruction materials that are included with the blank ballot. If the balloting materials are mailed, then the affirmation is also on the back of the return envelope. Detailed instructions on returning the voted ballot are included with the absentee balloting materials sent to the voter.