BRUNSWICK COUNTY VOTING FAQS
View our most commonly asked questions about voting in Brunswick County.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
May I keep my voter registration information private?
Pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 163-82.10 and Chapter 132 of the General Statutes, the State Board of Elections is required to make most voter information available to the public. All voter registration information is public record except for full or partial social security numbers, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, the identity of the public agency at which the voter registered under N.C.G.S. § 163-82.20, and the email address of a military-overseas voter. Additionally, your signature may only be viewed by the public and cannot be copied or traced.
Note: Third parties often access and use publicly available voter registration data for various purposes, and the agency has no authority to control their use of publicly available information.
According to N.C.G.S. § 163-82.10(e), a voter’s address will be kept confidential if a registered voter submits to the county board of elections either 1) a copy of a 50B protective order; 2) a restraining order; or 3) a current and valid Address Confidentiality Program authorization card issued according to the provisions of Chapter 15C of the General Statutes, along with a signed statement that the voter has good reason to believe that the physical safety of the voter or a member of the voter’s family residing with the voter would be jeopardized if the voter’s address was open to public inspection. To find out whether you are eligible to have your information withheld from the public under the Address Confidentiality program, please visit Address Confidentiality | NCDOJ.
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.
Can I vote in the municipal election?
To be eligible to vote in a municipal election, the voter must live in that municipality for at least 30 days before Election Day.
Section 2 of the NC Constitution provides that you must reside in an election district for 30 days preceding an election to be entitled to vote. Because those in unincorporated areas do not reside in a municipal district, they are not eligible to vote in that district.
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.).
Party affiliation only determines what you see on your ballot in a primary election.
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.
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.
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 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, a Multipartisan Assistance Team, or if the voter needs assistance due to a disability, any person may return the request form, according to the voter’s instruction:
- 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);
- The State Board of Elections has an online absentee ballot request portal that registered voters can use to request a ballot.
Are absentee by mail ballots automatically sent out to all registered voters?
No. North Carolina voters must request a ballot using the State Absentee Request Form or the online portal.
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?
Yes. Voters who vote by mail must include a photocopy of an acceptable ID. Or they may complete a Photo ID Exception Form with the absentee ballot return envelope. Instructions will be included in the absentee ballot packet. For more information, including acceptable types of photo ID, see Voter ID.
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. Any person may request an absentee ballot for a voter who needs assistance due to a disability.
Can I request a ballot for my child who is away at college?
Yes, if your child is a registered voter. The request form must include all required information, including the voter’s driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number.
You will sign and provide your:
- Daytime phone number
- Relationship to the voter
You may not update your child’s voter registration record, including name, address, or party affiliation.
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. A voter who needs assistance due to a disability and is a patient or resident in a covered facility may receive assistance from any person they choose, including the staff of the hospital, clinic, nursing home, or rest home where they are a patient or resident.
Are organizations allowed to send request forms to voters?
Organizations may send blank absentee request forms to voters but may not pre-fill any part of the forms. Third party groups should include the instructions with the form.
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?
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. Any person may return the ballot, according to the voter’s instruction, if they need assistance due to a disability.
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?
Yes. If you are delivering your voted ballot in person, it must be returned to your county board of elections by 5 p.m. on Election Day. You also may return it to any open early voting site in your county during the early voting period. When you return a ballot in person, you will be required to complete a return log as part of the in-person return process.
If you drop off a sealed absentee ballot at an early voting site, do you have to wait in line?
No, you do not have to wait in line. Inform a precinct official that you are there to return an absentee ballot and they will escort you to the Help Desk.
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.
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?
60 cents (one first-class stamp) or one Forever Stamp
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.
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 2021-03:
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.
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 voting system so it will not allow that to be done until election day.