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Saturday April 17th

Ready to vote? Here's how

UNC sophomore Janet Scott, helped by volunteer Maureen Corbett, registers to vote at a booth on Franklin Street on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020.
Buy Photos UNC sophomore Janet Scott, helped by volunteer Maureen Corbett, registers to vote at a booth on Franklin Street on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that voters are able to cast their ballot at their assigned polling location during early voting. Voters are able to submit a ballot at any early voting location, however their assigned polling place may not be open during the early voting period. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error. 

Voting can be an intimidating experience for those who are new to it or maybe haven’t voted in a while. The best ways to feel confident about voting are to be prepared and know what to expect before you enter the polling place. Assistant City and State Editor Kayleigh Carpenter talked with Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, and Rachel Raper, director of the Orange County Board of Elections, about commonly asked questions concerning voting in Orange County and across the state.

For North Carolina residents, individuals can register to vote at the DMV or other public service agencies. They can also download a voter registration form online on the state board website, fill it out and then mail it to or drop it off at their county board of elections.

In order to vote by mail, the voter must request a mail-in ballot by either using the online portal on the state board’s website or filling out a paper form and then mail it or drop it off back to the county board of elections. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27.

How do I register and re-register to vote?

For North Carolina residents, individuals can register to vote at the DMV or other public service agencies. They can also download a voter registration form online on the state board website, fill it out and then mail it to or drop it off at their county board of elections.

For this election, the state board added an option for online voter registration in partnership with the DMV. People who are DMV customers can go online to the state DMV website and fill out a voter registration application to be submitted to the state Board of Elections.

Raper said voter registration is about where someone considers their residence to be. 

“It's where you lay your head at night with the intention to return,” Raper said. “Is it back home with your parents? Or do you consider home to be UNC and you were simply displaced from campus but do intend to return?”

Individuals should re-register if any voter information has changed, including name, address and party affiliation.

In order to re-register, Bell said voters must fill out the voter registration information again.

Voter registration applications must be submitted by Oct. 9. People may still do same-day registration at early voting polling sites in their county.

What are the different ways to vote?

For the election, there are three ways to vote: early voting, voting on Election Day and absentee voting.

The early voting period is Oct. 15 through Oct. 31. During this time, voters can show up to any early voting location when they are open and cast the same ballot as given on Election Day.

On Election Day, Nov. 3, registered voters can vote at their assigned polling place from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Registered voters are not required to show an ID at the polling place.

Polling sites are in different locations for early voting and Election Day voting, and they can be found on the county board’s website.

Raper said voting locations will be set up differently for all early voting and Election Day voting locations. There will be six feet between workers and voters, and polling places will have volunteers to clean after every voter.

In order to vote by mail, the voter must request a mail-in ballot by either using the online portal on the state board’s website or filling out a paper form and then mail it or drop it off back to the county Board of Elections. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 27.

Bell said the ballot can then be mailed to any location the voter wants. After receiving the ballot and marking their choices, Bell said the voter must sign the outside of the ballot and return envelope, and a witness must sign a certification as well.

There are several ways that the ballot can be returned to the voter’s county Board of Elections. They can mail it back to the county board postmarked on or before Election Day, drop it off in person to the county board office or they can drop it off in person at any early voting site during voting hours.

Voters can track their ballot through the mail with the new BallotTrax portal, which launched Sept. 11.

"That's a new tool that we have in place and hopefully will help alleviate some concerns," Bell said. "Especially because we have so many people voting absentee by mail this year."

She said voters can see if their ballot has been accepted through the voter search tool on the state board's website.

Raper said for someone who's deciding between mail-in versus going in person, they should do whatever works for them.

“Voting by mail, voting early in person or voting on Election Day in person are all safe, secure ways to vote,” she said. “So I want you to do what makes the most sense for you.”

What if I’ve moved?

Bell said there are several options if a student has had to move away from campus and was already registered at their campus address.

A student can request an absentee ballot from the county Board of Elections of where they are registered and get it delivered to the address they are staying at. If they don’t want to do that, the other option is to come back to the county during early voting or on Election Day to vote in person. 

Another option would be to re-register into the county where they are staying at. This would allow them to get an absentee ballot for that county, or go in person to the election poll places in that county.

@kecarpenter1

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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