BRUNSWICK COUNTY VOTING FAQS
View our most commonly asked questions about voting in Brunswick County.
Click a box below to expand the section to view the FAQs.
Am I registered to vote?
Check your registration using the State Board of Elections Voter Lookup Tool.
How do I register to vote?
If you are an existing NC DMV customer, you can register to vote online through the DMV website. You can also print out a Voter Registration Form. If you are a new registrant, the original form is needed so it must be mailed or hand delivered. If you are an existing voter, you may return the form by email or fax.
How do I make changes to my registration?
There are several ways an existing voter can make changes to their voter registration record.
- Address and party changes may be made online through the DMV.
- Make changes on your voter registration card and mail it back to our office.
- Complete a Voter Registration Application and return it by mail, email, or fax.
When is the deadline to register to vote?
You must be registered to vote 25 days prior to the election – Friday, October 9, 2020 for the General Election. This is also the deadline for party changes. Mailed forms must be postmarked by this date.
What are my options if I missed the voter registration deadline?
If a resident has lived in Brunswick County for 30 days prior to the election and misses the voter registration deadline, they may go to any One-Stop Early Voting site to register and vote the same day. The individual will be required to provide acceptable proof of residence before they can become registered. The Notice to Same Day Registrants provides more details, including a list of acceptable proof of residence documents. Same day registration is only available during one-stop early voting; it is not available on election day.
How do I remove my registration or that of a deceased person?
To remove your own registration, use the Voter Registration Cancellation Form.
To remove a voter due to death, please download and complete the Notification of Deceased Voter Form. This form may only be completed by a near relative or personal representative of the deceased voter’s estate.
Either of these forms can be returned to our office via mail, faxed to (910)253-2618 or by email to email@example.com.
How do I know what contests and candidates are on my ballot?
Once sample ballots are available for an election, you can find yours by looking up your voter record. You can also obtain a copy of your sample ballot on our website or by calling our office and asking that we mail one to you. You may mark your sample ballot ahead of time and carry it into the voting booth with you.
We have a list of all candidates that will be on the November 3 ballot. You may also find a list of offices up for election each year by visiting our Elected Officials page. All sample ballots, once available, will be available on the Sample Ballots page.
If I am registered unaffiliated, can I vote in a primary?
Yes. Unaffiliated voters in North Carolina may vote in primary elections. Unaffiliated voters may choose to participate in any recognized party’s partisan primary, or they may request a non-partisan ballot. However, the voter must choose only one party’s primary. Participating in a partisan primary will not affect your status as an unaffiliated voter. The partisan choice does carry over to a second primary if one is called. If you request a non-partisan ballot, you will only vote for those contests that are non-partisan (i.e. judicial contests, referenda, etc.). The Constitution and Green parties do not permit unaffiliated voters to vote in their primaries.
Party affiliation only determines what you see on your ballot in a primary election.
What kind of voting machines are used in Brunswick County?
We use the Hart Verity voting system. Voters hand mark paper ballots and insert them into a precinct scanner. More information can be found on our voting systems page.
What is the difference between absentee voting and universal vote-by-mail?
Absentee voting is initiated by a request for the ballot. In North Carolina, a voter is not automatically sent a ballot in the mail, it must be requested. Thus, in NC we have absentee voting. Alternatively, vote by mail is a term typically used to describe a system in which all registered voters receive a ballot in the mail.
Absentee Voting - Requesting Your Ballot
Do I need an excuse or special circumstance to vote by mail?
No. Any registered voter in North Carolina may vote an absentee ballot by mail.
How do I request my absentee ballot by mail?
Fill out an official State Absentee Ballot Request Form. The request form comes with detailed instructions for completion and return. You may also contact our office and request a form be mailed to you.
After completing the request form, you may return it by fax (910-253-2618), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), mail, or in person.
The State Board of Elections has an online absentee ballot request portal that registered voters can use to request a ballot.
When can I request my ballot for the November 3, 2020 election?
Absentee ballots may be requested from now until the deadline – 5 p.m. October 27, 2020. The request must be received in the county board of elections office by 5 p.m. October 27. If you are mailing your request, please include enough time for your request to be received by the deadline.
How do I return my request to the board of elections?
The form may be returned by the voter, the voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian, or a Multipartisan Assistance Team:
- In-person to the county board of elections;
- By U.S. Postal Service (PO Box 2, Bolivia, NC, 28422);
- DHL, FedEx, or UPS (75 Stamp Act Drive NE, Building H, Bolivia, NC, 28422); or
- By email (email@example.com) or fax (910-253-2618).
- The State Board of Elections has an online absentee ballot request portal that registered voters can use to request a ballot.
When will I receive my absentee ballot for the 2020 general election?
Beginning September 4, 2020, ballots will be mailed by county boards of elections to voters who have returned a request form.
Are absentee by mail ballots automatically sent out to all registered voters?
No. North Carolina voters must request a ballot using the State Absentee Ballot Request Form.
Can I sign up to always receive a ballot?
No, a new absentee ballot request must be submitted for each election. The law does allow for annual absentee ballot requests only if there is a sickness or physical disability.
What are acceptable ways to include my signature on my absentee ballot request form?
A wet ink signature is not required for an absentee ballot request. However, the signature must be unique to the voter and must be readable. Voters may use a pen, or their finger, stylus, or mouse for the signature if they have the capability. Voters may not use a service such as DocuSign that inserts a typed or cursive font signature that is not made by the voter.
Do I need to include a copy of a photo ID with my absentee request form/ballot?
No. North Carolina voters are not required to provide or show ID until further order of the courts.
Where can I check to be sure you have received and processed my absentee ballot request form for November?
Absentee ballots will be mailed to voters beginning September 4. After September 4, if you request a ballot and do not receive it within about a week, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-253-2620.
Can someone request an absentee ballot for me?
Yes. Your near relative or legal guardian may request a ballot for you. A near relative is: your spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild.
Can I request a ballot for my child who is away at college?
Yes. A voter’s near relative may request an absentee ballot if their child is a registered voter. The request form must include all required information, including the voter’s driver’s license number or last four of their Social Security number. The near relative will sign and provide their address, daytime phone number, and relationship to the voter.
Does a faxed absentee ballot request need a cover sheet?
Can I pick up my ballot in person or does it have to be mailed to me?
The ballot must be mailed.
What if a voter in a hospital, nursing home or other facility needs assistance voting by mail?
Any registered voter may request assistance from a Multipartisan Assistance Team (MAT). A MAT is a group appointed by a county board of elections to assist voters in facilities with mail-in absentee voting. To schedule a MAT visit, contact our office at email@example.com or 910-253-2620.
Are organizations allowed to send request forms to voters?
Organizations may send blank State Absentee Ballot Request Forms to voters but may not pre-fill any part of the forms. Third party groups should include the instructions with the form.
What do I do with an absentee request I received but did not ask for?
Third party organizations will send out unsolicited Absentee Ballot Request forms for a variety of reasons. It is not illegal for these organizations to send out request forms. If the form is a 2020 State Absentee Request Form and does not have any pre-filled information (for example, your name or address), it is likely a valid form
If you do not want to vote an absentee ballot, simply recycle the unsolicited mail. There is no requirement that you complete the form or vote absentee.
Absentee Voting - Tracking Your Ballot
How do I know if my request has been received, my ballot has been mailed, or the ballot has been received by the Board of Elections?
Voters who vote by mail may use BallotTrax to track the status of their ballot from when it is mailed to when it is received by the county board of elections.
BallotTrax allows NC voters with valid absentee ballot requests to create an account. Once the account is created, voters will be able to:
- Log in to view the status of their absentee by-mail request and ballot. This includes confirmation that the county board of elections has received the request, that the ballot has been mailed to the voter and that the completed ballot has been received by the county board of elections.
- Learn if their ballot cannot be accepted because of issues such as a missing signature or witness information. If this occurs, the county board of elections will provide information to the voter on how to correct the issue.
- Sign up for email, text, and/or voice alerts for status updates.
Voters will see one of several statuses, including Requested, when an absentee request form is received by the County Board of Election, and Accepted, when the returned ballot is accepted by the county board of elections. Accepted generally means the county board of elections has received the ballot, the return envelope has no apparent issues, and the ballot will be counted. If the county board of elections subsequently finds an issue (the envelope is opened and there is no ballot inside, for example) then that status will change and the voter will be contacted.
Absentee Voting - Marking Your Ballot and Witness Requirements
What needs to be completed on the return envelope for my ballot to be counted?
- Voter signature
- Witness printed name, COMPLETE address, and signature
How many witnesses do I need for my absentee ballot?
For the 2020 general election, only one witness is required for an absentee ballot. The voter is required to mark the ballot in the presence of the witness. The witness should not observe so closely that they can see how the voter votes. Instructions will come with your absentee ballot.
Who is not allowed to serve as a witness to an absentee ballot?
Individuals prohibited from witnessing an absentee ballot include:
- A person younger than 18.
- A candidate for election, unless the candidate is the voter’s near relative.
- If the voter is a patient or resident at a hospital, clinic, nursing home, or adult care home, the following individuals are also prohibited from assisting: an owner, manager, director, or employee of that facility; an individual who holds any elected federal, state or local office or precinct political party or organization office; or a campaign manager or treasurer for any candidate or political party.
If I make a mistake on my ballot, may I request a new one?
Yes, if you have not returned the ballot, you may contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-253-2620 and request a new ballot. The first ballot should not be returned and will not count.
I live by myself, am very susceptible to the virus and do not want contact with anyone. How do I get my absentee ballot witnessed?
A voter is required to vote their ballot in the presence of a witness, but the witness may do so while socially distanced. In fact, the law requires that the witness preserve the secrecy of the voter’s ballot. A voter may choose to vote their ballot outside or may stand across the room from the witness. A voter could also ask their witness to observe through a window. In addition to wearing a mask and gloves, the voter and witness may wish to use separate pens and use hand sanitizer or wash their hands with soap and water before and after touching the balloting materials.
If I only want to vote for president, can I leave the rest of the ballot blank and will it still count?
Absentee Voting - Returning Your Ballot
How can I return my absentee ballot?
Absentee ballots may be returned:
- By mail (return envelope is provided with ballot)
- By commercial courier service (DHL, FedEx, or UPS) – must be delivered to our physical address
- In person at your county board of elections office (Building H)
- In person at an open early voting site from October 15-31
Will there be drop boxes?
No, there will not be drop boxes for ballot return.
When is the ballot return deadline for the November 3, 2020 election?
For civilian absentee voters, the container-return envelope with the voted ballot enclosed must be returned to the county board of elections no later than 5 p.m. on Election Day. Absentee ballots received after 5 p.m. on Election Day will be counted only if they are postmarked on or before Election Day and received by mail no later than 5 p.m. November 12. Ballots without a postmark must be received by Election Day.
If I’ve received my ballot by mail, may I still vote in person?
Yes. You may still vote in person as long as you did not return your absentee ballot. Your absentee ballot will be spoiled after you vote in person.
Can I vote the ballot and return it to the county board of elections, but change my mind and cancel my ballot and vote on Election Day instead?
No. Once you return your ballot, you may not change or cancel your ballot.
Will I be notified if my absentee ballot is rejected? Will I have a chance to remedy any deficiencies?
County boards of elections will contact voters when there are deficiencies with their absentee ballot. You should provide your phone number or email address on the request form in case the county board needs to contact you. The State Board encourages voters to carefully read and follow the instructions that come with the ballot. The State Board also encourages voters to request and return their absentee ballot as early as possible to ensure time remains to correct any issues. If an issue arises and the voter is unable to successfully cast an absentee ballot, that voter may still vote during the in-person early voting period or on Election Day.
May I return my friends’ and neighbors’ absentee ballots?
No. You may only return someone’s ballot if they are a near relative. A near relative is: your spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, or legal guardian.
May another person return my absentee ballot for me?
Yes, but only if that person is your spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in- law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, stepchild, or legal guardian. County boards of elections keep track of who drops off each absentee ballot.
May two people return their ballots in the same envelope?
No. The returned ballot envelope is specific to each voter and must contain that voter’s ballot.
May I hand-deliver my voted absentee ballot?
An absentee ballot can be returned in person to the Board of Elections or a one-stop voting location by the voter or the voter’s near relative. When a ballot is delivered in person, it must be logged by an election official. If you are delivering your voted ballot to the Board of Elections office, it must be returned to our office by 5 p.m. on Election Day.
If you drop off a sealed absentee ballot at an early voting site, do you have to wait in line?
Yes. If you do not want to wait in line, you can mail your ballot.
May I hand-deliver my voted absentee ballot to the polls on Election Day?
No. You may return your ballot to any early voting site in the county during the early voting period, but not to your polling place on Election Day. One-Stop early voting ends at 3 p.m. October 31.
I heard that if I vote absentee by mail, my vote may not get counted. Is that true?
No. Each eligible voter’s absentee ballot is counted, if it contains all required elements and meets the deadline for return to the county board of elections.
How much does it cost to mail my ballot in?
55 cents (one first-class stamp) or one Forever Stamp
Absentee Voting - Security
How secure is absentee by-mail voting?
Numerous safeguards are included in the absentee voting process. Absentee ballots are sent only to registered voters who request them using an official State Absentee Ballot Request Form.
The request must be signed and include identifying information about the voter, including date of birth and driver’s license number or last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number. Voters must vote their ballot in the presence of a witness, and that witness must sign the absentee return envelope certifying that the voter marked their ballot and is the registered voter submitting the marked ballot.
Only the voter or their near relative or legal guardian may return the ballot. Upon return, the county board of elections reviews the absentee envelope to ensure compliance with the legal requirements. Once the ballot is accepted, that voter is marked in the system as having voted in that election.
Data on who has requested absentee ballots is now confidential until Election Day. Criminal penalties have been increased for absentee voting fraud-related offenses. Many people are watching our absentee voting process, including candidates, political parties, county boards of elections, and political and data scientists. If there are anomalies or questionable activities, they will be reported to election officials.
Finally, the State Board of Elections has an Investigations Division that investigates credible allegations of elections fraud and refers cases to prosecutors when warranted by the evidence. The State Board also conducts several post-election audits which will catch inconsistencies that can then be investigated by the board or our Investigations Division.
What prevents someone from voting absentee and then voting again in-person?
If someone has voted an absentee ballot and then shows up to vote in person, the check-in system will alert the poll worker that the person has already voted.
The record of an absentee ballot request, as well as the actual absentee ballot, are attached to the voter’s record. If a voter submits multiple absentee ballot request forms, they will still only receive one ballot because both requests are attached to a single voter record. Once a voted absentee ballot is returned, it is recorded on the voter’s record. The record of a returned ballot is reflected on the poll book at one-stop early voting locations as well as on election day. If a voter appears that has already cast an absentee ballot, their record will indicate such and the voter will not be issued a regular ballot.
Will anyone know who I voted for?
No. Ballots remain in the sealed absentee envelope until they have been fully approved by the board. During the counting process, the ballot is removed from the envelope and fed into the tabulator. Ballots are secret by law, and others will not know who you voted for.
Can I view a list of all voters who have requested an absentee ballot?
Absentee by mail data is confidential until Election Day or until ballots are returned. This data may be viewed once ballots are returned and counted.
Absentee Voting - Approval and Counting
What happens when my absentee ballot is received in the board of elections office?
Trained county board staff review each executed container-return envelope the office receives to determine if there are any deficiencies. The initial review is conducted by staff to expedite processing of the envelopes.
If the required fields (voter signature, witness signature, witness address) are completed on the envelope, the ballot is tentatively approved and held until the next board meeting when the board will officially approve the ballot.
What if I did not sign my ballot?
Our office will notify you in writing within one business day of receipt and you will be sent an affidavit to complete certifying that you signed the envelope.
What if my signature does not match my signature on file?
The law does not require that the voter’s signature on the envelope be compared with the voter’s signature in their registration record. See the excerpt below from Numbered Memo 2020-19:
County boards shall accept the voter’s signature on the container-return envelope if it appears to be made by the voter, meaning the signature on the envelope appears to be the name of the voter and not some other person. Absent clear evidence to the contrary, the county board shall presume that the voter’s signature is that of the voter, even if the signature is illegible. A voter may sign their signature or make their mark.
The law does not require that the voter’s signature on the envelope be compared with the voter’s signature in their registration record. Verification of the voter’s identity is completed through the witness requirement. See also Numbered Memo 2020-15, which explains that signature comparison is not permissible for absentee request forms.
What if my witness did not sign or put their address?
The ballot will be spoiled and a new one will be issued to you. The new ballot will contain a notice explaining the action.
Will results be delayed because of the large number of absentee ballots in 2020?
No. We will take preparatory steps to count ballots at weekly board meeting beginning on September 29. During those meetings, the board will supervise the opening of approved envelopes and the scanning those ballots through a scanner. At the conclusion of each meeting, the ballots that have been scanned will be secured in a security-sealed container inside a vault and the scanner will be turned off.
On November 3, the scanner will be closed, and the results tabulated for all ballots that were received by November 2 at 5 pm. When the polls close at 7:30 on election night, we will release results of absentee voting for those ballots.
Does the board or staff know what the results are as the ballots are scanned during these weekly meetings?
No, the ballots are opened and immediately scanned. The ballots are then immediately placed into a ballot bin, which is sealed using a security seal that has a unique number on it. That number is logged by staff and verified by the board at the end and beginning of each absentee meeting. The results from the scanned ballots are not known until the scanner is closed on election day; we actually program the election not to allow that to be done until election day.
Voting in Person
What can I expect to see as far as COVID-19 precautions when I go vote?
All poll workers will be required to wear face coverings. Voters will not be required to wear face coverings, but it is highly recommended. We will have masks available for anyone who arrives without one.
We will have directional arrows and social distancing markers throughout the voting enclosure. Each voter will receive an individual, single use pen that will take the place of our usual “I Voted” stickers. There will be hand sanitizer strategically placed throughout the enclosure. High-touch areas will be sanitized throughout the day, with voting booths being sanitized after each use.
If I don’t want to go inside because of COVID-19, can I vote outside?
Curbside voting is available at all one-stop and election day polling places. Curbside voting is for voters who, because of age or disability, cannot enter the polling place. The term disability includes voters who have a medical condition that puts them at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Each polling place will have a marked parking spot for curbside voting.
Can I wear my candidate paraphernalia when I go vote?
Yes. Voters in the act of voting may wear political attire when in the act of voting. Once the act of voting is complete voters should exit the polling place immediately and remain outside the buffer zone.
What is the buffer zone?
The buffer zone is an area surrounding the entrance to the polling place inside which electioneering and loitering may not occur. The buffer zone is set anywhere from 25-50 feet surrounding the entrance and will be clearly marked at each polling place.
What if I am unable to enter the polling place due to age or physical disability?
In any election, if any voter is able to travel to the voting place, but because of age or physical disability and physical barriers encountered at the voting place is unable to enter the voting enclosure to vote in person without physical assistance, that voter will be allowed to vote in the vehicle conveying that voter.
Curbside voting is available at all voting sites during the one-stop absentee voting period and on election day. Voting sites will have signage indicating curbside voting and will also have a curbside alert system. An election official will come to the vehicle to obtain the voter’s name and address. Before a ballot is issued to a curbside voter, the voter must swear an oath affirming his or her qualification to use curbside voting.
I plan to bring a voter to vote curbside. May I sit in the car and vote curbside too?
The same rules apply to both the driver and passengers. All persons wishing to vote curbside must sign an affidavit stating they cannot enter the polling place due to age or physical disability.
Can someone help me cast my ballot?
North Carolina law allows for any voter to receive assistance in entering or exiting a voting booth as well as preparing a ballot, as long as the person providing assistance is a member of the voter’s immediate family. N.C. law defines an immediate family member as one of the following: spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, grandchild, mother- or father-in-law, son- or daughter-in-law, stepparent or stepchild.
The law further stipulates that some voters can receive aid from a wider range of helpers. If a voter satisfies any of the conditions below, they are eligible to receive help from any person of their choice, with the exception of the voter’s employer or union representative, or an agent thereof. Those are:
- a voter who, on account of physical disability, is unable to enter the voting booth without assistance
- a voter who, on account of physical disability, is unable to mark a ballot without assistance
- a voter who, on account of illiteracy, is unable to mark a ballot without assistance
- a voter who, on account of blindness, is unable to enter the voting booth or mark a ballot without assistance
Any voter who qualifies for and requests assistance while voting at a One-Stop (early) voting site is entitled to the same assistance as voters who vote on Election Day.
What is provisional voting?
A provisional ballot is offered to voters when there are questions about:
- a voter’s qualification to vote,
- the voter’s eligibility to vote in a given election, or
- the voter’s eligibility to vote a specific ballot style.
Provisional voting is a mechanism by which a citizen is guaranteed the opportunity to cast a ballot in the event that such questions have been raised. In that case, the citizen is permitted to cast a provisional ballot, which is held aside pending research into the issue to be resolved. Findings are presented to the county board members, who make final determinations. Election results are not finalized until all provisional ballots that are eligible have been included in the total count.
Provisional voting is fail-safe voting. State law mandates that each person who presents to vote be given that opportunity, whether by regular or provisional ballot. In no circumstance will a voter be turned away.
One-Stop Early Voting
What is one-stop early voting?
One-stop absentee voting (commonly known as “early voting”) allows any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot in person on select days prior to Election Day. Unlike on Election Day, when registered voters can only vote at their specific precinct, one-stop voting allows registered voters to vote at any one-stop absentee voting site in the county. One-stop sites will have all the ballot styles for a given election at each site.
When you present to vote at a one-stop site, you may change your name or address, if it needs to be updated.
What is the schedule for one-stop early voting?
One-stop voting begins on October 15 and runs through October 31. We will be open each day, during that period. See the complete schedule on our One-Stop Voting page or print the 2020 General Election One-Stop Schedule.
How does same day registration work?
If a resident has lived in Brunswick County for 30 days prior to the election and misses the voter registration deadline, they may go to any one-stop early voting site to register and vote the same day. The individual will be required to provide acceptable proof of residence before they can become registered. The Notice to Same Day Registrants provides more details, including a list of acceptable proof of residence documents. Same day registration is only available during one-stop early voting; it is not available on election day.
Election Day Voting
Where do I go vote on election day?
On election day, you vote in your assigned precinct to ensure you receive a ballot that contains all races for which you are eligible. If you do not go to your correct precinct, you will have to vote on a provisional ballot. It is recommended that voters check where they should go vote prior to election day by looking up their voter record.
When is the election?
The next election will be held on November 3, 2020. The polls will be open from 6:30 am until 7:30 pm.