With a pivotal election season coming up amid a global pandemic, it is more important than ever that everyone has all the tools and knowledge they need to exercise their right to vote. Below are the steps you need to help you be successful in this process.
Registering to Vote
The first step for being able to vote properly is checking that you are registered to vote at your current address. Going to vote.org will allow you to both check your registration and register to vote online if you are not already. Registration can also be done at your local DMV, or you can submit a registration application on the NC DMV website. For most voter registration, you will need a valid form of North Carolina ID, such as your driver’s license. If you do not have a valid form of ID, you will have to fill out a physical form and mail it in. Go to this website to find the address for your local board of elections office. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 9.
Voting by mail
If you choose to vote by mail, it is likely a ballot request form will be sent to your permanent address a few weeks before the voter registration deadline. Simply fill out this form to request a mail-in ballot and send it back to the address labeled on the form before the absentee ballot deadline on Oct. 27. If you do not receive this ballot in the mail or you are not living at your registered permanent address, vote.org also has a ballot request form that you can fill out. When you receive your mail-in ballot, be sure to mail it back with enough time for the ballot to arrive by Nov. 3, or drop off your ballot in person at your local polling place by the same date. When filling out an absentee ballot, you must do so in the presence of a witness, or your ballot will not be counted. Only one witness is necessary. Further witness instructions will come with your absentee ballot.
Voting in person
Depending on where you are registered to vote, you can find your polling location on vote.org by state and address. If you choose to vote early between Oct. 15-31, your polling place will not be the same as your official Election Day location, so be sure to visit the North Carolina State Board of Elections website to find an early voting location near you. You can still vote if you missed the October registration deadline if you register on the day you vote at an early voting site, but this opportunity is only possible during the early voting period. If you do not vote early, go to your polling place on Nov. 3 and be sure to plan for enough time to wait in line. If you choose to vote in person, do not forget to wear a mask and remain socially distant from other voters.
While it is always important to exercise your right to vote, this election is particularly significant because it represents the ideological differences present in our country. Depending on who you vote for, your decision will help decide policies on healthcare, the environment, and basic human rights. This election season, your vote is more important than ever to decide what our country will look like for the next four years and beyond.