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On Tuesday, April 23rd the Bladen County Board of Elections will hold their first absentee meeting according to the Bladen County website. Absentee voting allows you to vote by mail. Every state has absentee voting and rules on who can take part in absentee voting.

The Bladen County meeting about the absentee voting will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Board of Elections office located at 301 S. Cypress Street in  Elizabethtown according to the announcement by Louella P. Thompson, Bladen County Board of Elections’ Chairman.

You may view the sample ballots of the upcoming elections here, or on the county’s website.

There will also be a regular Bladen County Board of Elections meeting held on Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 9 a.m. according to Thompson’s notice.

North Carolina has laid out the rules and regulations on the NC State Board of Elections’ website. Reasons vary on why a person may need to vote by an absentee ballot. The state gives examples as follows:

Some other reasons you may request an absentee ballot are:

  • Being unable to get to your polling place due to illness, injury, or disability.
  • Being on business travel or vacation outside of your county or city of residence on Election Day
  • Being a student at an out-of-state college or university

You may view a video about the absentee ballot instructions here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Sz7huOCPa8Qjtb1BLjxkjwtnlSaeZzvO/view

According to the site, in order to receive a mail-in absentee ballot for an election, a voter or the voter’s near-relative or legal guardian must use the State Absentee Ballot Request form to request the ballot.

Request forms are available at the State Board of Elections office, on the State Board of Elections website, and at county boards of election offices.  The site gives the following definition for a near relative: “near-relative” means a spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild.

There is a deadline for the election offices to receive the absentee forms. The election site states, “a signed and completed State Absentee Ballot Request Form must be received by your county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the last Tuesday prior to the date of the election for which the ballot is being requested.

A signed and completed request form may be mailed, faxed, e-mailed or delivered in person to the county board of elections office.

Note: A request form must be received for each election that a voter desires to vote a by-mail absentee ballot.”

Identification must be provided in order to request a absentee form.

The State Absentee Ballot Request Form may only be signed by the voter or a near-relative or legal guardian of the voter. When completing the form, the voter or the requestor must sign and provide the voter’s name, residential address, date of birth, and an identification number for the voter (i.e., NC DMV driver license number, NC DMV identification card number, or the last four digits of the voter’s social security number.) If an identification number is not provided on the form, then the requestor must submit one of the following documents listed below along with the completed request form:

  • A current utility bill
  • A bank statement
  • A government check
  • A paycheck
  • Other government documents containing name and address.

If a person other than the voter (a near relative or legal guardian) makes the request, then the requestor must also provide his or her name and residential address on the request form. If requesting a ballot for a partisan primary, and the voter is registered Unaffiliated, the voter or requestor should indicate the ballot preference for the voter. Finally, the voter or requestor must provide the address where the absentee balloting materials are to be mailed, if different than the voter’s residential address.

Note: If a registered North Carolina voter (including eligible dependents) is absent due to military service or is currently living overseas, then only the actual voter should complete the State Absentee Ballot Request Form.

If a valid request is received, the county board of elections office will mail the voter absentee balloting materials to the address provided on the request form when absentee ballots are available. Absentee ballots are available:

  • 50 days prior to the date of a statewide primary election, county bond election or any other election, except those listed below;
  • 60 days prior to the date of a statewide general election;
  • 30 days prior to municipal elections.

The absentee ballot packet you receive will consist of the following materials:

  • A blank official absentee ballot
  • Absentee voting instructions
  • Absentee Application and Certificate
  • Absentee Ballot return envelope

When voting with an absentee ballot there are other rules to abide by. The State Board of Elections’ office says, absentee ballots should be witnessed.

“In the presence of two witnesses (or one witness if the witness is a notary-public), the voter should mark the ballot, or cause it to be marked according to his or her instructions. Once the ballot is marked, the voter or a person assisting the voter must seal the ballot in the container-return envelope and must then complete the Absentee Application and Certificate on the back of the ballot container-return envelope. The voter’s witnesses must complete and sign the envelope in the space designated as Witnesses’ Certification (or Alternative Notary-Witness Certification, if using a notary-public as the witness).  If someone assisted the voter, the assister must sign and date the certificate as well,” NCSBE states about the ballots.

“Once the Absentee Application and Certificate is fully executed with all relevant signatures, the voted ballot (contained inside of the container-return envelope) must be returned to the county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the date of the election. The envelope may be mailed or delivered in person to the board of elections’ office. Only the voter or the voter’s near relative (spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, stepchild or qualified legal guardian) may deliver an absentee ballot in person. An absentee ballot may also be delivered to an election official at a one-stop voting site during any time that site is open for voting. Ballots received after 5:00 p.m. on election day will be timely ONLY if they are received by mail and bear a postmark that is dated on or before the date of the election and are received no later than 5:00 p.m. on the third day following the election.” the site continues.

Assistance for Voters Living in Facilities is outlined as well.

“Some voters find it necessary to vote by mail-in absentee ballot because they are elderly, limited in their mobility, or have a disability. This group of voters includes persons living at facilities such as nursing homes. Oftentimes, these voters require assistance in completing the forms or marking the ballot. The first preference, according to the law, is for the voter to receive assistance from a near relative or guardian. But some voters, particularly voters who live in facilities, may not have a near relative or guardian available to provide that assistance. It is important to know that employees of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or rest homes are prohibited by law from providing assistance with absentee voting. So, voters who live in facilities such as nursing homes or rest homes face special challenges in casting a mail-in absentee ballot. But here’s the good news: In every county, an impartial team called a “Multipartisan Assistance Team” is available to visit facilities such as nursing homes in order to provide assistance with mail-in absentee voting. Click here for more information about Multipartisan Assistance Teams.”

You may request your absentee ballot by visiting Vote.org. https://www.vote.org/absentee-ballot/north-carolina/

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