North Carolina Absentee Ballot Guide

Last updated October 08, 2014
Military and Overseas voters should visit the Overseas Vote Foundation. Long Distance Voter's information should only be used by voters with US mailing addresses.

Important Deadlines

  • Voter Registration: Postmarked 25 days before the election.
  • Absentee Ballot Application: Received by the Tuesday before the election by 5:00 p.m.
  • Voted Absentee Ballot: Postmarked by election day and received by 5:00 p.m. on the 3rd day after the election; Received by 5:00 p.m the day before the election if returned in person 

How to vote by absentee ballot

Register to vote

Recommended: Use our Voter Registration Tool.  Enter your information, print and sign the completed form, and mail it to the address printed on the form.  For faster processing, mail the form directly to your County Board of Elections.

You can also download North Carolina's voter registration form. Return the completed form to your county County Board of Elections.

NOTE: North Carolina used to have "One Stop" voting during the early voting period, at which you could register to vote and cast your ballot at the same time. They no longer offer one stop voter registration

Verify your voter registration

It's best to verify your voter registration before applying for your absentee ballot.  If there's a problem with your registration, register again before proceeding.

NOTE: Most people receive their voter registration cards in the mail 2-3 weeks after registering to vote. Don't worry if you lost your voter registration card. You don't actually need it to vote.

Make sure you're qualified to vote by absentee ballot

Good news! Any registered North Carolina voter can vote by absentee ballot.

Apply for your absentee ballot

The earliest day to apply for an absentee ballot is 50 days before election day; the deadline for applying is the Tuesday prior to election day.

In late 2013, North Carolina created an official absentee ballot application (prior to that, absentee voters had to handwrite or type their request). You must use the official application to request your absentee ballot.

A "near relative" can also submit a written request on your behalf.  A near relative is a spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild.)

NOTE: Although it does not say so on the application, your signature needs to be original. North Carolina will not accept digital signatures.

NOTE: North Carolina is one of the only states that does not have special ID requirements to vote in person, but requires proof of ID to apply for an absentee ballot. (This will change in 2016 when in-person voters will need to show photo ID.) The current ID requirements are explained on the request form. You can also view them on our voter ID laws page.

Complete the form and mail it back to your County Board of Elections.

Receive, complete, and return your absentee ballot

Your county board will process your application and mail you a ballot and a return envelope. Fill out the ballot and sign where indicated. You need to fill out the ballot in the presence of either a notary or two witnesses, who will also need to sign the ballot. Return your absentee ballot to your county Board of Elections.  Your ballot must be receied by 5pm the day before the election in order to be counted.

Frequently Asked Questions:

I missed the voter registration deadline for North Carolina.  What can I do?

A North Carolina resident who is qualified to vote but who misses the 25-day deadline for voter registration may register and vote in person before election day at an Early Voting Site.  If you do this, you must vote at the Early Voting Site during the early voting period; you cannot vote by mail or at the polls on election day.  See our Early Voting page for more information.

Do I need to provide ID when I apply for my absentee ballot in North Carolina?

You do not need to provide ID if you've already voted in North Carolina at least once.  If you are voting for the first time in North Carolina and you did not meet the ID requirements when you registered to vote, then you must include a COPY of a current and valid photo ID that shows your name OR a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows your name and North Carolina address. 

Long Distance Voter has created custom absentee ballot application forms for other states, why not North Carolina?

We made a North Carolina absentee ballot application, but we were informed by the State Board of Elections that it is against state law for a third party (such as Long Distance Voter) to create and distribute absentee ballot applications.  The state isn't being malicious, but they are concerned about outside influence on elections. 

We think the best solution at this point is for the State Board of Elections to create their own formal absentee ballot application and to make it available on their website.  If you agree with us - and we bet you do - call the State Board of Elections and ask them to create a formal statewide absentee ballot application.  Here are their phone numbers: (919) 733-7173 or (866) 522-4723.

Can I vote in person before the election?

Yes. Check out our Early Voting page for details.

Additional Information

Elections Website:
Local Election Officials: Your Local Election Official is the best person to contact if you have questions.  They'll be able to provide up-to-date information on rules and deadlines. 


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