North Carolina Voting Laws

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The Most Important Election of Our Lives

Before every presidential election, the pundits, journalists, and most of our friends, neighbors and relatives constantly say the same thing:  it’s the most important presidential election of our lives.  Like always, they’re all saying it now.  And, they’re all right.

2020’s two presidential candidates offer voters two vastly different ideological choices and the victor will go on influencing social norms and problems.  The victor will also go on motivating how the states and citizens handle the Covid-19 Pandemic and most probably continue to reshape the U.S. Supreme Court.  Then, there’s the economy, jobs, healthcare, taxes, Social Security, environment, and schools – only a few more of the matters the victor will directly impact.

What’s happening now is always what’s most important.  So, the upcoming 2020 presidential election really is the most important election of our lives.

North Carolina’s Role in the Electoral College

Though pundits and journalists focus most of their energies on Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden realized North Carolina’s importance and visited it often during their campaigns.

The public actually votes for electors who officially elect the president through the

Electoral College, which the framers devised through Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution.  The 12th and 23rd Amendments later modified it.   The population determines each state’s electoral numbers.

North Carolina has 15 electoral votes, only one less than Georgia (Florida, with 29 electoral votes, has the highest amount in the south), so it’s also a vital state.  In 2008, Barack Obama won the state, but was the last Democrat to do so.  Mitt Romney won it in 2012 and then Donald Trump won it in 2016.  As with most states, demographics and turn-out determined the winner.

The winning candidate needs 270 electoral votes.  In 2016, Trump won 304, while Hillary Clinton won 227.

North Carolina Voting Laws

All eligible voters must be at least 18 years old.  They must be registered to vote in the county in which they live and must have lived in that county for at least 30 days.

If an individual is currently serving a sentence for a felony conviction, they cannot vote.  “Serving” includes probation and parole.  If, however, the state restored the individual’s rights, they are eligible to vote.

Mail-In Voting / Absentee Voting – Is there a Difference?

Covid-19 changed many things this year, including how we vote.  Many states changed certain voting rules and regulations and many allowed early and Mail-In Voting.  Voters could always vote absentee and many pundits, journalists, and states use the term “absentee” or “Absentee Ballots” when discussing Mail-In Voting.  Is there a difference?

Traditionally, absentee voting referred to instances when a voter would be outside their polling area on Election Day.  States began allowing absentee voting during the Civil War to allow soldiers to vote.   As time passed, states expanded the practice to also allow those away on vacation, the disabled, and others facing unexpected and other types of situations the opportunity to vote.  Some states required explanations, others do not.

Mail-In Voting, the way it is today, post Covid-19, refers to instances where the voting district or county mails a ballot to a voter and the voter uses said ballot, rather than appearing in-person, to cast their vote.  But, again, at the present, some use the terms interchangeably.  Some states automatically send out Mail-In Ballots to all registered voters.  Voters in other states need to request a Mail-in Ballot.  States have certain leeway on how to run elections.

North Carolina Mail-In Voting Laws

North Carolina is one of those states that use Mail-in Voting and Absentee Voting interchangeably.  To vote by mail, any registered voter may request a Mail-In Ballot online through the North Carolina Absentee Ballot Portal (October 27, 2020, was the deadline to request a Mail-In Ballot).  Voters do not have to state a reason for voting by mail.

The Mail-In Ballot provides detailed instructions regarding completion.  Find online instructions through this link.

Where to Mail / Drop-Off Completed Mail-In Ballots

Mail your completed Mail-In Ballot to your county board of elections.  It must be postmarked on or before Election Day and your county board of elections must receive it by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 6, 2020.  In addition to the postal service, you can also use a courier service (FedEx, DHL, or UPS) to deliver your completed Mail-In Ballot.

You can also personally deliver your completed Mail-In Ballot to your county board of elections by 5:00 p.m. on Election Day (November 3, 2020).

Use this link to find the address of your county board of elections.

As well, you can personally deliver your completed Mail-In Ballot to an early voting site during voting hours.  Use this link for information regarding early voting sites.

Can You Change Your Mail-In Vote?

President Trump recently tweeted that most states allow mail-in voters to appear in-person on Election Day to change their mail-vote.  While some states allow voters to appear in person on Election Day and cast a ballot that voids their mail-in vote, North Carolina does not allow such an option.  Once the district accepts your mail-in ballot, you cannot change or void it.

So long as you did not submit your Mail-In Ballot and so long as your voting district did not accept it, you can still vote in-person.

If you do show up to vote in-person, poll workers and election officials will answer whatever questions you may have and attempt to solve whatever problems you may be experiencing.

Did Your District Accept Your Mail-In Ballot?

You may check online whether your district accepted your Mail-In Ballot through this link.

Voter ID Law

For the past ten years, the state has seen been various changes and disagreements over voter identification laws.

For the 2020 National Election, voters will not be required to present photo ID.

Early In-Person Voting

While Tuesday, November 3, 2020 is the national Election Day, North Carolina eligible voters may cast early in-person votes from Thursday, October 15, 2020 through Saturday, October 31, 2020.  Find your local early in-person sites through this one stop voting site search.

Other Helpful Links

Use this link to find your polling place.

Use this link to see what is on the election ballots.

Go to this site to register for election reminders.

Go to this site to register online for future elections.

Thomas D. Baumgardner represents families and individuals in personal injury protection, separation and divorce, child custody and support, wrongful death, car and truck accidents, nursing home abuse and traffic-related offenses.  Contact him at (704) 870-4779 email him at to learn more about the legal services he provides and to book an appointment.

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