In addition to our comprehensive coverage of contested local races in Buncombe County, Mountain Xpress hopes to clear up some frequently asked questions about the process of voting in 2020’s general election. Below, you’ll find short explainers on when, where and with what information ballots can be cast.
Buncombe County’s 2020 voting timeline
Mark your calendar! Take note of the following important dates to make sure your vote is counted before state deadlines:
- Thursday, Oct. 15: Early voting begins at 16 locations across Buncombe County. Sites are open 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekends. Voters can also deliver absentee ballots to these sites. Eligible individuals not yet registered to vote may use “one-stop” combined registration and voting at early voting sites.
- Tuesday, Oct. 20: Last day the U.S. Postal Service recommends requesting an absentee ballot.
- Tuesday, Oct. 27: Last day to request an absentee ballot.
- Saturday, Oct. 31: Last day for early voting in Buncombe County. Polls run 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Tuesday, Nov. 3: Election Day. In-person voting will be held in 80 county precincts. Polls are open 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. All mailed absentee ballots must be postmarked by this date, and those delivered by hand must arrive at Buncombe County Election Services, 77 McDowell St., by 5 p.m.
- Friday, Nov. 6: Mailed absentee ballots must be postmarked and arrive at the Buncombe County Board of Elections by this date to be counted.
- Friday, Nov. 13: The Buncombe County Board of Elections will finalize its official canvass, or ballot authentication process, and formally declare winners.
Find your sample ballot
To find sample ballots and check voter registration status, visit the N.C. State Board of Elections voter search website at avl.mx/6nq.
Users must enter their full name and voter status. After searching, the system will display a list of matching names. Selecting your name takes you to a page with sample ballots (located in the top left corner under “11/03/20 GENERAL”), the address of your election day polling place and the jurisdictions of your representatives. If you voted absentee, this page also shows the status of your ballot.
If your name does not show up, you are not registered to vote in North Carolina. If you believe this is an error, contact your county Board of Elections.
Each county Board of Elections also has sample ballots available on its website. Voters are encouraged to fill one out in advance to minimize time spent in a polling place.
Vote by mail
If you’d like to vote by mail, request an absentee ballot through the N.C. State Board of Elections’ online ballot request portal (avl.mx/8ii) or by filling out and submitting an absentee ballot request form (avl.mx/8ij) by mail. All forms must be returned to the corresponding county Board of Elections by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27; request forms can be mailed, emailed, faxed or brought to the county election office in person by the voter or a near relative.
When your ballot arrives, follow the enclosed directions. You must mark the ballot in the presence of a witness, who must sign the absentee ballot envelope upon completion.
The completed absentee ballot can be mailed back to the county Board of Elections (you will need your own postage stamp) or delivered to any early voting site or the county Board of Elections. An absentee ballot can be delivered by a near relative, but it must be postmarked or dropped off by 5 p.m on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Absentee voters can sign up for text or email updates on the status of their ballot through BallotTrax (avl.mx/8il), run through the N.C. State Board of Elections.
Absentee request forms in Spanish can be found at avl.mx/8ik.
Do I need to bring my ID?
Voters will not be required to show photo identification for the 2020 elections, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections. State and federal courts have temporarily blocked the state’s photo ID requirement, passed by a statewide referendum in 2018, from taking effect this election cycle.
However, eligible voters registering to vote at a one-stop voting site must provide one of the following: a North Carolina driver’s license or an identity card from the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles; a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or utility bill showing the voter’s name and address; a student photo ID plus a school document showing the student’s address; or any document from a government agency showing the voter’s name and address.
Having trouble? Call the N.C. State Board of Elections at 919-715-0135, the Buncombe County Board of Elections at 828-250-4200, or 866-OUR-VOTE, a nonpartisan election support hotline by the nonprofit Election Protection.
Voter guides beyond Buncombe
This year’s ballot covers far more than the local — and let’s face it, Xpress can’t do it all. The following nonpartisan voter guides offer information and candidate profiles for state and national races:
- Vote411, a bilingual voter guide sponsored by the League of Women Voters, can be personalized to match your sample ballot. avl.mx/8im
- Democracy NC offers a comprehensive guide to state races in both English and Spanish. avl.mx/8in
- Common Cause NC’s 2020 Voter Guide breaks down each candidate’s responses to questions by issue. http://avl.mx/8is
- The NC Values Coalition has teamed up with iVoterGuide to create a nonpartisan voter guide that scores candidates on their adherence to “life, family and religious freedoms.” http://avl.mx/8iv
- The N.C. State Board of Elections 2020 Judicial Voter Guide focuses solely on the 16 candidates running for seats on the NC Supreme Court and the NC Court of Appeals. avl.mx/8io