Request an Absentee Ballot
More than 200,000 North Carolinians have already requested an absentee mail-in ballot for November's elections, according to political science professor Michael Bitzer in the Old North State Politics blog. That's eight times the number requested at this point in 2016. Bitzer estimates the number may reach 300,000, well above the 231,000 requests for the entire 2016 election.
48 percent of the requests have come from Democrats and only 18 percent from Republicans. In 2016 the split was 37-37. Many are obviously buying the false narrative of tampering and corruption in mail-in voting, but the facts dispute those assertions. With the notable exception of the corruption scheme unveiled in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District in the 2018 election there is scant evidence of significant fraud.
There is real concern about efforts to undermine the US Postal Service in mailing completed ballots. A reasonable person has to acknowledge what appears to be a campaign to disrupt the mail service, effectively suppressing voting. If you wish to use the post office, it is recommended you mail your ballot back no later than October 27th to make sure it is received and counted. You don't have to depend only on the mail, however. You may take your completed ballot to your county board of elections office or to an open early voting site.
Voting will obviously be different this year. Our State Board of Elections, in an attempt to ensure both safety and opportunity, has dictated that counties have at least one early voting site for every 20,000 registered voters. Further, those sites are to be open for at least 10 hours per day on the two weekends prior to November 3rd. All in-person voting will require social distancing and facial coverings. Precinct workers will wear protective equipment and each voting booth will be sanitized in between voters. Count on spending a little longer in line this year, due to the extra time needed for sanitizing and perhaps due to inexperienced poll workers. Patience and courtesy will be needed.
25,000 poll workers are needed for our 2,700 precincts statewide. The average age of these workers is about 70 and many have already declared they don't feel safe working this year. A call for volunteers has gone out. If willing to work, contact your county board of elections.
Every registered voter has the right to request an absentee ballot for the November 3rd election.
We recommend you do so... and soon. It doesn't take much time to fill out the request form and it ensures that if in-person voting becomes problematic you will be able to vote. When you get the request form you will be required to provide your, name, address, date of birth and either your driver's license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you need help from a relative or caregiver completing your ballot you will need to provide his or her name. If you decide to vote by mail you will also need one witness to testify to seeing you mark your ballot.
This may be the most important election of our lifetime and every vote is essential. Who knows what might happen between now and election day? Go ahead and request an absentee ballot. It is a great insurance policy to ensure your vote is counted.
Publisher's note: Tom Campbell is former assistant North Carolina State Treasurer and is creator/host of NC SPIN
, a weekly statewide television discussion of NC issues that airs on UNC-TV main channel Fridays at 7:30pm, Sundays 12:30pm and UNC North Carolina Channel Fridays at 10:00pm, Saturdays at 4:00pm and Sundays at 10:00am
. Contact Tom at NC Spin.