For all of the passionate calls to vote this November, there are equally passionate, but often unfounded, claims about whether those votes will be counted correctly.
For states like North Carolina that don’t usually handle hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots, the process has come with a few snags, but there are ways to ensure your mail-in ballot was received and counted.
Thankfully, studies show that voter fraud by mail is rare. A Washington Post analysis with the Electronic Registration Information Center showed 372 cases of possible voter fraud out of 14.6 million votes cast by mail in the 2016 and 2018 general elections. That’s around 0.0025 percent.
Additionally, for those voting early in-person or on Election Day, there are safeguards in place for you as well. In North Carolina anyone who’s not working at the polls or waiting in line must stand outside the buffer zone, usually about 50 feet away from the entrance to the polling place.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I check my mail-in absentee ballot’s status?
Use ballottrax on the North Carolina State Board of Elections website. It’ll show you when your absentee ballot has been printed and accepted. Or you can search your name on the state’s voter lookup page: It’ll have your full voter history.
What can I do if my mail-in ballot was rejected?
It depends on the reason for the rejection.
The Board of Elections will reach out if there’s something wrong with your ballot and advise you on next steps.
If it’s rejected because you forgot a witness signature: A federal judge ruled on October 14 that voters who didn’t get witness signatures couldn’t send an affidavit certifying their ballots were legitimate. They must now fill out and send in new ballots.
If it’s rejected because of some other smaller mistake: The ruling said that voters who made more minor errors, such as signing in the wrong place or forgetting the witness’s address, can certify their ballot was legitimate with a follow-up affidavit.
If an absentee ballot has a pending deficiency and the voter decides to skip the correction process and just go vote in-person: They’ll be given a regular ballot and their absentee ballot will not be counted.
For more details on this, check here.
What’s the last day I can send in my mail-in ballot?
In North Carolina absentee ballots must be received by 5 p.m. on Election Day. Ballots postmarked on or before Election Day will be counted if they’re received by 5 p.m. on November 6.
USPS suggests civilian voters send their ballot in at least one week before their state’s deadline. So the best last day for North Carolina voters to send in their ballots is October 27.
The earlier, the better.
Can I still request a mail-in ballot?
Honestly at this point, if you can, the best bet is to vote in person at one of the 33 one-stop sites around the county.
But if you need a mail-in ballot, hurry. The state BOE must receive mail-in ballot requests by 5 p.m. on October 27.
North Carolina residents do not need a special circumstance or reason to request an absentee ballot.
What if I requested an absentee ballot and didn’t send it in?
You can either fill out the ballot and drop it off at a polling place during the early voting period, or throw it out and vote early in-person or on Election Day. Absentee ballots aren’t counted until they’re sent in.
Can I still register to vote? Or change my address?
Yes and yes. Voters can register in person during the early voting period but not on Election Day. Here’s more on what you’ll need to same day register.
Voters can make changes to their registration online, by mail, during early in-person voting, or on Election Day (although it’s recommended that changes be made before then).
Does my employer have to give me time off to vote?
No, not in North Carolina. Take advantage of voting by mail or early voting, which continues during the weekend, if you’re concerned about taking time off during the work day.
When are polling places open?
Polls opened for early in-person voting on October 15. They’ll stay open all month. Here’s the in-person voting schedule for Mecklenburg County.
Weekdays — from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays — 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sundays — 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Off days — November 1 and 2, the last two days before the November 3 Election Day.
On Election Day, Mecklenburg County polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.
Should I post a selfie with my ‘I voted’ pen or mask or sticker (if you got one)?
We say, yes, always (just wait until you’ve left the polling place).
Check Charlotte Votes 2020 for more election coverage.