Opinion

Absentee ballots with built-in safeguards differ from mail-in ballots

Hendersonville – So far in 2020 absentee ballot requests have soared in number, particularly when compared to 2016.  Thus it is important that North Carolinians know that voting by mail in North Carolina is not the same as the current national discussion of a mail-in ballot.  The state of North Carolina already has safeguards in place that must be followed in order to vote absentee in this state. There are quite a few rules to be followed.  

According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections,   “The voter, or the voter’s near relative or legal guardian, must first use the State Absentee Ballot Request Form to request a ballot.”  He or she “may ask any member of a multipartisan assistance team (MAT) authorized to assist them.”   “The registered voter must fill in a form and sign this form.”  “The ballot has to be witnessed when signing,” (although not a notarized signature) but witnessed by a competent person.  It must then be submitted to the local election office.  If not registered, a citizen must register to vote no later than 25 days prior to the date of the election.  

“A few of the requirements to register to vote in North Carolina are: you must meet the following qualifications: 

a) be a citizen of the United States

b) have lived at the registered address for at least thirty days immediately before the next election at which you want to vote

c) be 18 years of age by the day of the next general election

d) have your rights of citizenship restored if you have been convicted of a felony and completed your felony sentence including probation, post-release supervision, parole or a prison term

e) not be registered or vote in any other county or state.”

“For the November 2020 general election, completed State Absentee Ballot Request Forms may be emailed, faxed, mailed or hand-delivered to the voter’s county board of elections by one of the following:

• the voter;

• the voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian; 

• or a member of a multipartisan assistance team.” 

“A signed and completed State Absentee Ballot Request Form must be received by the county board of elections office no later than 5 pm on the Tuesday before the date of the election for which the ballot is being requested (5 pm October 27, 2020, for the 2020 general election).” The State Board strongly recommends sending the form in early if possible. More specific information on absentee voting in the state can be found at: https://www.ncsbe.gov/Voting-Options/Absentee-Voting.

There is a national discussion on mail-in ballots, which is creating some confusion.  North Carolina has safeguards already built into the process.  With the excitement of the presidential election taking place, interest is soaring; however, with COVID-19 the fear of going to the polls causes many more to want to vote absentee and not have to be physically present at a polling place. 

Thus it is important to make sure a person understands what is required of a registered voter to vote absentee. The voter must have requested an absentee ballot to be sent to them by the proper county board office. Merry Guy, chairman of the GOP in Henderson County, said, “I have full confidence that the Henderson County Board of Elections will hold a fair and honest election.”  

Early voting

Early voting is October 15th through October 31st.  In Buncombe County the location is 77 McDowell Street; and many other locations throughout the county.  In Henderson County, there are four early voting locations.  Board of elections, 75 East Central Street, Hendersonville; Etowah Library, 101 Brickyard Road, Etowah, Fletcher Town Hall, 300 Old One Creek Road, Fletcher, and Flat Rock Village Hall, 1010 Village Center Dr. Flat Rock. During the week Monday through Friday offices are open from 8 am – 7:30 pm.  However, the times vary on Saturdays.  The last day to vote early is Saturday, October 31, from 8 am – 3 pm.

Then on November 3rd Election Day, a registered voter can vote at their regular precinct from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. For further information go to www.ncsbe, hendersoncountync.gov, or buncombecountry.org.