Smoky Mountain News, written by Cory Vaillancourt
The General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 3, and there are plenty of ways to vote early, or vote from the comfort of one’s own home, but there are a lot of deadlines and procedural steps that voters need to be aware of, to ensure their vote counts. Here’s a quick rundown on available options and processes for voting.
First, check to ensure your voter registration information is accurate and active by visiting https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/. The deadline to register to vote in the 2020 General Election is Friday, Oct. 9. [BUT DO IT NOW]
Voting absentee by mail
Any registered voter within North Carolina can request a ballot by visiting https://votebymail.ncsbe.gov. Active duty military personnel and overseas voters have different rules and deadlines, and should visit www.ncsbe.gov/voting/vote-mail/military-and-overseas-voting.
Voters should allow at least 10 days after a ballot is requested to receive it by mail, but the deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27. [BUT, DO IT NOW]
Check the status of your request by visiting https://northcarolina.ballottrax.net/voter.
The United States Postal Service recommends that voters request ballots as soon as possible but no later than 15 days before Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 3) to ensure sufficient time for delivery.
Complete the ballot according to the instructions and be sure to sign both the ballot, and the envelope in the spaces provided. A witness signature is also required.
Completed ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day to count. The USPS recommends mailing the completed ballot back at least a week before the Nov. 3 deadline.
Alternately, completed ballots can be dropped off at your county board of elections office through 5 p.m. on Election Day. Days and office hours of county boards of elections can vary, so call before you go. Find yours at https://vt.ncsbe.gov/boeinfo. Only the voter or the voter’s legal guardian can deliver a ballot in person.
County board of elections office location in [Jackson County] is: 876 Skyland Dr., #1, Sylva • 828.586.7538, www.jcncelections.org/
Completed ballots can also be dropped off at voting sites during the early voting period, which runs from Thursday, Oct. 15, through Oct. 31. Again, days, hours and locations of early voting sites vary by county, so be sure to check yours at https://vt.ncsbe.gov/ossite/ before you go. Only the voter or the voter’s legal guardian can deliver a ballot in person. [Ballots can be dropped off at Jackson Board of Elections NOW.]
To ensure your completed mail-in absentee ballot was received and accepted, do not — as President Donald Trump suggested — show up at your polling place on Election Day and attempt to vote again. Voting twice incurs unnecessary risk of coronavirus exposure, makes more work for busy election officials and is a felony in North Carolina.
Instead, visit https://northcarolina.ballottrax.net/voter/ to track the status of your requested or completed mail-in absentee ballot.
Voting in-person during early voting
Early voting runs from Thursday, Oct. 15 through Oct. 31. Early voting sites in [Jackson County] will include:
• Cashiers Recreation Center, 355 Frank Allen Rd., Cashiers
• Cullowhee Recreation Center, 88 Cullowhee Mountain Rd., Cullowhee
• Jackson County Board of Elections, 876 Skyland Dr., Sylva
• Qualla Community Building, 181 Shoal Creek Church Loop, Whittier
• Western Carolina University, 245 Memorial Dr., Cullowhee
Voting in person [on Election Day]
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Voters who are in line at 7:30 p.m. will still be allowed to vote, no matter how long the line is. Voter identification is not required.
Vote only at your precinct, which can be found by visiting https://vt.ncsbe.gov/reglkup. You can also find a sample ballot listing all of the races in which you’re eligible to vote.
Do not visit polling sites to determine the status of your absentee ballot. Visit https://northcarolina.ballottrax.net/voter.
Registering to vote on Election Day is not an option in North Carolina.
Significant measures will be taken to guard against the spread of COVID-19, including enforcement of social distancing. Masks will be provided for those who don’t bring their own.