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RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – If you would prefer to cast your vote in this election cycle by mail – and tens of thousands of voters in North Carolina have done so – you must request that ballot by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The North Carolina Board of Elections issued a reminder for voters about that deadline, even as many flock to early in-person voting at outlets across the state.

That process will end at 3 p.m. Saturday in advance of next Tuesday’s final voting. You can find when and where to vote here.

At stake this term are a variety of races that include the tight contest between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd for the about-to-be-vacant U.S. Senate seat, 14 seats in Congress and every seat in the North Carolina General Assembly.

There also are two seats on the NC Supreme Court and four on the state Court of Appeals, which, along with the General Assembly, are key factors in determining the balance of power in the state.

As of Monday morning, election watchers at Old North State Politics blog report that about 1,160,746 had been received and processed across the state, and more than 91,000 of those were by mail. Both figures are tracking ahead of 2018, the last midterm election, when about 53% of registered voters cast ballots.

In its reminder, the NC BOE reported that, as of last Wednesday, about 234,366 mail ballots had been requested.

“We believe many people who voted by mail in 2020 due to the pandemic found the process simple and efficient, and are voting by mail again this year,” Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections, said in the reminder. Of course, all voters should use the voting method that best suits them – either by mail or inperson during the early voting period or on Election Day.”

How to request an absentee ballot

There are two ways registered voters may request, receive and return a mail-in absentee ballot, with the online option recommended because of the tight window of time:

Blind or visually impaired voters can access ballots through a system that is compatible with screen readers and allows for digital or type signatures,  the BOE said in its instructions.

Ballot status can be tracked by online notifications through BallotTrax.

Returning the ballot

There also are two ways to return an absentee ballot:

  • A voter’s near relative or legal guardian may return his/her absentee ballot in person to an early-voting site by Saturday or to the voter’s county board of elections office until 5 p.m. on Election Day. Voters may not return an absentee ballot to an Election Day polling place.
  • Voters may also mail their absentee ballot to their county board of elections office. Completed absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 8 and received by the voter’s county board of elections by Nov. 14.

You may recall that the calling of a presidential winner in North Carolina was delayed in 2020 while those late-arriving ballots were processed. The NC BOE also has taken steps to ensure absentee ballot security.