November 3rd is right around the corner, so you know what that means: It’s voting season! No matter what your political beliefs are, voting is an incredibly essential part of sustaining our democracy. It is one of the only ways that we can have a direct say in who gets to be our political leaders.
This year, voting may look a bit different because of the current circumstances surrounding the virus. More people than ever are turning to absentee voting to avoid crowds at the polls. There has been a lot of turmoil and misinformation spread around voting by mail, so let’s break down the process and terms:
Absentee Ballot/Voting: This refers to a mail-in ballot that can be requested by an individual who cannot make it to their polling place for whatever reason. To request an absentee ballot in NC, you DO NOT have to be out of your state, county, or polling area. You can request an absentee ballot for any circumstance and you do not have to provide a reason.
Mail-In Ballot/Voting: This is a BROAD TERM that refers to all forms of sending in ballots by mail. In some states (not NC), voters are automatically sent a ballot through mail and they can send this back or drop it off at their local election office. In those states, absentee voting means a person is out of the state or country. However, in most circumstances absentee voting and mail-in voting are interchangeable terms.
How to Vote in NC:
Step 1: Register to Vote (First-Time Voters)
You can register to vote online! There are several ways to do this and many websites that assist with this. You must submit these applications 25 days before an election, or October 9.
1. Method One: Fill out this application and mail it to your local election office. All the addresses are on the last page of the application.
2. Method Two: You may already be registered to vote if you have a NC Driver’s License. You can also fill out an online application through the DMV’s website as well.
3. Method Three: Lots of third-party websites have voter registration tools as well. Vote.org is a great place to register to vote online the same way you would through the NC voting website. Using reliable websites like these creates the same outcome as using the first two methods.
4. Method Four: If you decide to do in-person early voting, you can register on site. You must have an ID or a document that shows your full name and current address to register to vote in person early.
Step 2: Update Your Registration (Experienced Voters)
1. If you are unsure if you are registered to vote or if your address is updated, you can look up your registration using this tool.
2. If you need to update your address, you can use the DMV’s registration tool or the mail-in application tool (both mentioned above).
3. You can also update your address on site if you decide to do early voting in-person.
Step 3: Voting
If you decide to vote IN PERSON, there are two way to do so:
1. Early Voting: Begins 19 days before the election (October 15) and ends 3 days before the election (October 31)
2. Election Day Voting: This is November 3!
(Note that you DO NOT need any sort of ID if you vote in person, unless you are registering to vote on-site. You can only register to vote on site during early voting.)
If you decide to vote ABSENTEE, here is the process for that:
1. This year, you can fill out an absentee ballot request form online here. You can also fill out a paper copy here and return it by mail, email, or fax to your local election office OR drop it off in person. Whichever you choose, they must be received seven days before November 3, or October 27 at 5pm.
2. Starting September 4, absentee ballots will be mailed to voters who requested them. Fill out your ballot.
3. You can return the ballot to your county board of elections office through the mail, in person, or at an early voting site. These must be received by 5pm on November 3.
All information from this blog was found from these sources. For additional information, you can visit these links!
I know that voting may seem like a trifling thing to do when there is so much systematic injustice in America, but our country is at a crucial turning point.
Vote like it.
– DJ butter
(Image: Tom Arthur from Orange, CA, United States / CC BY-SA link)