SUBCHAPTER VII. ABSENTEE VOTING.

Article 20.

Absentee Ballot.

163-226. Who may vote an absentee ballot.

(a) Who May Vote Absentee Ballot; Generally. - Any qualified voter of the State may vote by absentee ballot in a statewide primary, general, or special election on constitutional amendments, referenda or bond proposals, and any qualified voter of a county is authorized to vote by absentee ballot in any primary or election conducted by the county board of elections, in the manner provided in this Article.

(a1) Repealed by Session Laws 2001-337, s. 1, effective January 1, 2002.

(a2) Annual Request by Person With Sickness or Physical Disability. - If the applicant so requests and reports in the application that the voter has a sickness or physical disability that is expected to last the remainder of the calendar year, the application shall constitute a request for an absentee ballot for all of the primaries and elections held during the calendar year when the application is received.

(b) Absentee Ballots; Exceptions. - Notwithstanding the authority contained in G.S. 163-226(a), absentee ballots shall not be permitted in fire district elections.

(c) The Term "Election". - As used in this Subchapter, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the term "election" includes a general, primary, second primary, runoff election, bond election, referendum, or special election.

(d) The Term "Verifiable Legal Guardian." - An individual appointed guardian under Chapter 35A of the General Statutes. For a corporation appointed as a guardian under that Chapter, the corporation may submit a list of 10 named individuals to the State Board of Elections who may act for that corporation under this Article. (1939, c. 159, s. 1; 1963, c. 457, s. 1; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; c. 952, s. 1; 1973, c. 536, s. 1; c. 1018; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; 1979, c. 140, s. 1; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 561, s. 1; c. 734, s. 5; 1999-455, s. 1; 2001-337, s. 1; 2001-507, s. 1; 2013-381, s. 4.5.)

 

163-226.1. Absentee voting in primary.

A qualified voter may vote by absentee ballot in a partisan primary provided the qualified voter is affiliated, at the time the qualified voter makes application for absentee ballots, with the political party in whose primary the qualified voter wishes to vote, except that an unaffiliated voter may vote in a party primary if permitted under G.S. 163-119. The official registration records of the county in which the voter is registered shall be proof of whether the qualified voter is affiliated with a political party and of the party, if any, with which the qualified voter is affiliated. (1977, c. 469, s. 1; 1999-455, s. 2.)

 

163-226.2. Absentee voting in municipal elections.

Absentee voting by qualified voters residing in a municipality shall be in accordance with the authorization specified in G.S. 163-302. (1977, c. 469, s. 1.)

 

163-226.3. Certain acts declared felonies.

(a) Any person who shall, in connection with absentee voting in any election held in this State, do any of the acts or things declared in this section to be unlawful, shall be guilty of a Class I felony. It shall be unlawful:

(1) For any person except the voter's near relative or the voter's verifiable legal guardian to assist the voter to vote an absentee ballot when the voter is voting an absentee ballot other than under the procedure described in G.S. 163-227.2; provided that if there is not a near relative or legal guardian available to assist the voter, the voter may request some other person to give assistance;

(2) For any person to assist a voter to vote an absentee ballot under the absentee voting procedure authorized by G.S. 163-227.2 except as provided in that section;

(3) For a voter who votes an absentee ballot under the procedures authorized by G.S. 163-227.2 to vote that voter's absentee ballot outside of the voting booth or private room provided to the voter for that purpose in or adjacent to the office of the county board of elections or at the additional site provided by G.S. 163-227.2(f1), or to receive assistance except as provided in G.S. 163-227.2;

(4) For any owner, manager, director, employee, or other person, other than the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian, to (i) make a written request pursuant to G.S. 163-230.1 or (ii) sign an application or certificate as a witness, on behalf of a registered voter, who is a patient in any hospital, clinic, nursing home or rest home in this State or for any owner, manager, director, employee, or other person other than the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian, to mark the voter's absentee ballot or assist such a voter in marking an absentee ballot. This subdivision does not apply to members, employees, or volunteers of the county board of elections, if those members, employees, or volunteers are working as part of a multipartisan team trained and authorized by the county board of elections to assist voters with absentee ballots. Each county board of elections shall train and authorize such teams, pursuant to procedures which shall be adopted by the State Board of Elections. If neither the voter's near relative nor a verifiable legal guardian is available to assist the voter, and a multipartisan team is not available to assist the voter within seven calendar days of a telephonic request to the county board of elections, the voter may obtain such assistance from any person other than (i) an owner, manager, director, employee of the hospital, clinic, nursing home, or rest home in which the voter is a patient or resident; (ii) an individual who holds any elective office under the United States, this State, or any political subdivision of this State; (iii) an individual who is a candidate for nomination or election to such office; or (iv) an individual who holds any office in a State, congressional district, county, or precinct political party or organization, or who is a campaign manager or treasurer for any candidate or political party; provided that a delegate to a convention shall not be considered a party office. None of the persons listed in (i) through (iv) of this subdivision may sign the application or certificate as a witness for the patient.

(5) Repealed by Session Laws 1987, c. 583, s. 8.

(6) For any person to take into that person's possession for delivery to a voter or for return to a county board of elections the absentee ballot of any voter, provided, however, that this prohibition shall not apply to a voter's near relative or the voter's verifiable legal guardian;

(7) Except as provided in subsections (1), (2), (3) and (4) of this section, G.S. 163-231(a), and G.S. 163-227.2(e), for any voter to permit another person to assist the voter in marking that voter's absentee ballot, to be in the voter's presence when a voter votes an absentee ballot, or to observe the voter mark that voter's absentee ballot.

(b) The State Board of Elections or a county board of elections, upon receipt of a sworn affidavit from any qualified voter of the State or the county, as the case may be, attesting to first-person knowledge of any violation of subsection (a) of this section, shall transmit that affidavit to the appropriate district attorney, who shall investigate and prosecute any person violating subsection (a). (1979, c. 799, s. 4; 1983, c. 331, s. 2; 1985, c. 563, s. 4; 1987, c. 565, s. 7; c. 583, ss. 8, 10; 1995, c. 243, s. 1; 1999-455, s. 3; 2005-428, s. 5(b); 2007-391, s. 29(a); 2013-381, s. 4.6(a); 2014-111, s. 15(a).)

 

163-227. Repealed by Session Laws 1999-455, s. 4.

 

163-227.1. Second primary; applications for absentee ballots for voting in second primary.

A voter applying for an absentee ballot for a primary election who will be eligible to vote under this Article on the day of the primary and second primary shall be permitted by the county board of elections to indicate that fact on that voter's application and that voter shall automatically be issued an application and absentee ballot for the second primary if one is called. The county board of elections shall consider that indication a separate request for application for the second primary and, at the proper time, shall enter that voter's name in the absentee register along with the listing of other applicants for absentee ballots for the second primary.

In addition, a voter entitled to absentee ballots under the provisions of this Article who did not make application for the primary or who failed to apply for a second primary ballot at the time of application for a first primary ballot may make a written request for absentee ballots for a second primary not earlier than the day a second primary is called and not later than the date and time provided by G.S. 163-230.1.

All procedures with respect to absentee ballots in a second primary shall be the same as with respect to absentee ballots in a first primary except as otherwise provided by this section. (1973, c. 536, s. 1; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; 1981, c. 560, s. 1; 1985, c. 600, s. 3; 1999-455, s. 5.)

 

163-227.2. Alternate procedures for requesting application for absentee ballot; "one-stop" voting procedure in board office.

(a) Any voter eligible to vote by absentee ballot under G.S. 163-226 may request an application for absentee ballots, complete the application, and vote under the provisions of this section.

(a1) Repealed by Session Laws 2001-337, s. 2, effective January 1, 2002.

(b) Not earlier than the second Thursday before an election, in which absentee ballots are authorized, in which a voter seeks to vote and not later than 1:00 P.M. on the last Saturday before that election, the voter shall appear in person only at the office of the county board of elections, except as provided in subsection (g) of this section. A county board of elections shall conduct one-stop voting on the last Saturday before the election until 1:00 P.M. That voter shall enter the voting enclosure at the board office through the appropriate entrance and shall at once state his or her name and place of residence to an authorized member or employee of the board and present photo identification in accordance with G.S. 163-166.13. In a primary election, the voter shall also state the political party with which the voter affiliates and in whose primary the voter desires to vote, or if the voter is an unaffiliated voter permitted to vote in the primary of a particular party under G.S. 163-119, the voter shall state the name of the authorizing political party in whose primary he wishes to vote. The board member or employee to whom the voter gives this information shall announce the name and residence of the voter in a distinct tone of voice. After examining the registration records, an employee of the board shall state whether the person seeking to vote is duly registered. If the voter is found to be registered that voter may request that the authorized member or employee of the board furnish the voter with an application form as specified in G.S. 163-227. The voter shall complete the application in the presence of the authorized member or employee of the board, and shall deliver the application to that person.

(b1) Until the deadline for submission of requests for absentee ballots provided in G.S. 163-230.1, any voter who fails to present an eligible form of photo identification in accordance with G.S. 163-166.13 shall be notified of the option to complete a written request form for an absentee ballot at that one-stop absentee voting location. The county board of elections shall notify the voter of each of the following:

(1) The option to request an absentee ballot to vote in that election, whether requested at that one-stop absentee voting location or as provided in G.S. 163-230.2.

(2) The instructions for completing the absentee ballot request in accordance with G.S. 163-230.1, along with the deadlines for returning the absentee ballot.

(3) The means by which the voter may transmit the executed ballot to the county board of elections as provided in G.S. 163-231, including through delivery in person to an election official at a one-stop voting location.

Upon receiving notice pursuant to this subsection, a voter shall sign a form acknowledging that the voter was notified of the option to request and vote an absentee ballot. The list of names of those voters who signed an acknowledgment is a public record.

(c) If the application is properly filled out, the authorized member or employee shall enter the voter's name in the register of absentee requests, applications, and ballots issued and shall furnish the voter with the ballots to which the application for absentee ballots applies. The voter thereupon shall vote in accordance with subsection (e) of this section.

All actions required by this subsection shall be performed in the office of the board of elections, except that the voting may take place in an adjacent room as provided by subsection (e) of this section. The application under this subsection shall be signed in the presence of the chair, member, director of elections of the board, or full-time employee, authorized by the board who shall sign the application and certificate as the witness and indicate the official title held by him or her. Notwithstanding G.S. 163-231(a), in the case of this subsection, only one witness shall be required on the certificate.

(d) Only the chairman, member, employee, or director of elections of the board shall keep the voter's application for absentee ballots in a safe place, separate and apart from other applications and container-return envelopes. If the voter's application for absentee ballots is disapproved by the board, the board shall so notify the voter stating the reason for disapproval by first-class mail addressed to the voter at that voter's residence address and at the address shown in the application for absentee ballots; and the board shall enter a challenge under G.S. 163-89.

(e) The voter shall vote that voter's absentee ballot in a voting booth in the office of the county board of elections, and the county board of elections shall provide a voting booth for that purpose, provided however, that the county board of elections may in the alternative provide a private room for the voter adjacent to the office of the board, in which case the voter shall vote that voter's absentee ballot in that room. A voter at a one-stop site shall be entitled to the same assistance as a voter at a voting place on election day under G.S. 163-166.8. The State Board of Elections shall, where appropriate, adapt the rules it adopts under G.S. 163-166.8 to one-stop voting.

(e1) (Effective until January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 - see note) If a county uses a voting system with retrievable ballots, that county's board of elections may by resolution elect to conduct one-stop absentee voting according to the provisions of this subsection. In a county in which the board has opted to do so, a one-stop voter shall cast the ballot and then shall deposit the ballot in the ballot box or voting system in the same manner as if such box or system was in use in a precinct on election day. At the end of each business day, or at any time when there will be no employee or officer of the board of elections on the premises, the ballot box or system shall be secured in accordance with a plan approved by the State Board of Elections, which shall include that no additional ballots have been placed in the box or system. Any county board desiring to conduct one-stop voting according to this subsection shall submit a plan for doing so to the State Board of Elections. The State Board shall adopt standards for conducting one-stop voting under this subsection and shall approve any county plan that adheres to its standards. The county board shall adhere to its State Board-approved plan. The plan shall provide that each one-stop ballot shall have a ballot number on it in accordance with G.S. 163-230.1(a2), or shall have an equivalent identifier to allow for retrievability. The standards shall address retrievability in one-stop voting on direct record electronic equipment where no paper ballot is used.

(e1) (Effective January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 - see note) If a county uses a voting system with retrievable ballots, that county's board of elections may by resolution elect to conduct one-stop absentee voting according to the provisions of this subsection. In a county in which the board has opted to do so, a one-stop voter shall cast the ballot and then shall deposit the ballot in the ballot box or voting system in the same manner as if such box or system was in use in a precinct on election day. At the end of each business day, or at any time when there will be no employee or officer of the board of elections on the premises, the ballot box or system shall be secured in accordance with a plan approved by the State Board of Elections, which shall include that no additional ballots have been placed in the box or system. Any county board desiring to conduct one-stop voting according to this subsection shall submit a plan for doing so to the State Board of Elections. The State Board shall adopt standards for conducting one-stop voting under this subsection and shall approve any county plan that adheres to its standards. The county board shall adhere to its State Board-approved plan. The plan shall provide that each one-stop ballot shall have a ballot number on it in accordance with G.S. 163-230.1(a2), or shall have an equivalent identifier to allow for retrievability.

(e2) A voter who has moved within the county more than 30 days before election day but has not reported the move to the board of elections shall not be required on that account to vote a provisional ballot at the one-stop site, as long as the one-stop site has available all the information necessary to determine whether a voter is registered to vote in the county and which ballot the voter is eligible to vote based on the voter's proper residence address. The voter with that kind of unreported move shall be allowed to vote the same kind of absentee ballot as other one-stop voters.

(f) Notwithstanding the exception specified in G.S. 163-36, counties which operate a modified full-time office shall remain open five days each week during regular business hours consistent with daily hours presently observed by the county board of elections, commencing with the date prescribed in G.S. 163-227.2(b) and continuing until 5:00 P.M. on the Friday prior to that election and shall also be open on the last Saturday before the election. A county board may conduct one-stop absentee voting during evenings or on weekends, as long as the hours are part of a plan submitted and approved according to subsection (g) of this section. The boards of county commissioners shall provide necessary funds for the additional operation of the office during that time.

(g) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a county board of elections by unanimous vote of all its members may provide for one or more sites in that county for absentee ballots to be applied for and cast under this section. Every individual staffing any of those sites shall be a member or full-time employee of the county board of elections or an employee of the county board of elections whom the board has given training equivalent to that given a full-time employee. Those sites must be approved by the State Board of Elections as part of a Plan for Implementation approved by both the county board of elections and by the State Board of Elections which shall also provide adequate security of the ballots and provisions to avoid allowing persons to vote who have already voted. The Plan for Implementation shall include a provision for the presence of political party observers at each one-stop site equivalent to the provisions in G.S. 163-45 for party observers at voting places on election day. A county board of elections may propose in its Plan not to offer one-stop voting at the county board of elections office; the State Board may approve that proposal in a Plan only if the Plan includes at least one site reasonably proximate to the county board of elections office and the State Board finds that the sites in the Plan as a whole provide adequate coverage of the county's electorate. If a county board of elections has considered a proposed Plan or Plans for Implementation and has been unable to reach unanimity in favor of a Plan, a member or members of that county board of elections may petition the State Board of Elections to adopt a plan for it. If petitioned, the State Board may also receive and consider alternative petitions from another member or members of that county board. The State Board of Elections may adopt a Plan for that county. The State Board, in that plan, shall take into consideration factors including geographic, demographic, and partisan interests of that county. Any plan adopted by either the county board of elections or the State Board of Elections under this subsection shall provide for the same days of operation and same number of hours of operation on each day for all sites in that county for that election. The requirement of the previous sentence does not apply to the county board of elections office itself nor, if one-stop voting is not conducted at the county board of elections office, to the reasonably proximate alternate site approved under this subsection.

(g1) The State Board of Elections shall not approve, either in a Plan approved unanimously by a county board of elections or in an alternative Plan proposed by a member or members of that board, a one-stop site in a building that the county board of elections is not entitled under G.S. 163-129 to demand and use as an election-day voting place, unless the State Board of Elections finds that other equally suitable sites were not available and that the use of the sites chosen will not unfairly advantage or disadvantage geographic, demographic, or partisan interests of that county. In providing the site or sites for one-stop absentee voting under this section, the county board of elections shall make a request to the State, county, city, local school board, or other entity in control of the building that is supported or maintained, in whole or in part, by or through tax revenues at least 90 days prior to the start of one-stop absentee voting under this section. The request shall clearly identify the building, or any specific portion thereof, requested the dates and times for which that building or specific portion thereof is requested and the requirement of an area for election related activity. If the State, local governing board, or other entity in control of the building does not respond to the request within 20 days, the building or specific portion thereof may be used for one-stop absentee voting as stated in the request. If the State, local governing board, or other entity in control of the building or specific portion thereof responds negatively to the request within 20 days, that entity and the county board of elections shall, in good faith, work to identify a building or specific portion thereof in which to conduct one-stop absentee voting under this section. If no building or specific portion thereof has been agreed upon within 45 days from the date the county board of elections received a response to the request, the matter shall be resolved by the State Board of Elections.

(g2) Notwithstanding the requirements of subsection (g) and (g1) of this section, for any county board of elections that provided for one or more sites during the 2010 or 2012 general election, that county shall provide, at a minimum, the following:

(1) The county board of elections shall calculate the cumulative total number of scheduled voting hours at all sites during the 2012 primary and general elections, respectively, that the county provided for absentee ballots to be applied for and voted under this section. For elections which include a presidential candidate on the ballot, the county shall ensure that at least the same number of hours offered in 2012 is offered for absentee ballots to be applied for and voted under this section through a combination of hours and numbers of one-stop sites during the primary or general election, correspondingly.

(2) The county board of elections shall calculate the cumulative total number of scheduled voting hours at all sites during the 2010 primary and general elections, respectively, that the county provided for absentee ballots to be applied for and voted under this section. For elections which do not include a presidential candidate on the ballot, the county shall ensure that at least the same number of hours offered in 2010 is offered for absentee ballots to be applied for and voted under this section through a combination of hours and numbers of one-stop sites during the primary or general election, correspondingly.

As used in this subsection, the phrase "cumulative total number of scheduled voting hours" includes those at the office of the county board of elections or the reasonably proximate alternate site approved under subsection (g) of this section.

The State Board of Elections, to ensure compliance with this subsection, may approve a one-stop site in a building that the county board of elections is not entitled under G.S. 163-129 to demand and use as an election-day voting place, but may deny approval if a member of that board presents evidence that other equally suitable sites were available and the use of the sites chosen would unfairly advantage or disadvantage geographic, demographic, or partisan interests of that county.

(g3) A county board of elections by unanimous vote of the board, with all members present and voting, may submit a request to the State Board to reduce the number of hours established in subsection (g2) of this section for a primary or a general election. The reduction shall take effect for that primary or general election only if approved by unanimous vote of the State Board with all members present and voting.

(h) Notwithstanding the provisions of G.S. 163-89(a) and (b), a challenge may be entered against a voter at a one-stop site under subsection (g) of this section or during one-stop voting at the county board office. The challenge may be entered by a person conducting one-stop voting under this section or by another registered voter who resides in the same precinct as the voter being challenged. If challenged at the place where one-stop voting occurs, the voter shall be allowed to cast a ballot in the same way as other voters. The challenge shall be made on forms prescribed by the State Board of Elections. The challenge shall be heard by the county board of elections in accordance with the procedures set forth in G.S. 163-89(e).

(i) At any site where one-stop absentee voting is conducted, there shall be a curtained or otherwise private area where the voter may mark the ballot unobserved.

(j) The State Board of Elections shall adopt rules requiring signage to be displayed until the deadline for submission of requests for absentee ballots provided in G.S. 163-230.1 at all one-stop absentee voting locations notifying voters who do not have eligible photo identification of the option to request an absentee ballot as provided in subsection (b1) of this section. (1973, c. 536, s. 1; 1975, c. 844, s. 12; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; c. 626, s. 1; 1979, c. 107, s. 14; c. 799, ss. 1-3; 1981, c. 305, s. 2; 1985, c. 600, s. 4; 1987, c. 583, s. 4; 1989, c. 520; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 991, s. 2; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 53; 1995, c. 243, s. 1; c. 509, ss. 117, 118; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 561, s. 4; 1997-510, s. 2; 1999-455, s. 6; 2000-136, s. 2; 2001-319, s. 5(a)-(c); 2001-337, s. 2; 2001-353, s. 9; 2003-278, s. 11; 2005-428, ss. 5(a), 6(a), 7; 2007-253, s. 3; 2007-391, s. 34(a); 2009-541, s. 23; 2013-381, ss. 2.7, 16.5, 25.1, 25.2, 25.3, 30.7; 2014-111, s. 3; 2015-103, ss. 6(b), 8(b), (c).)

 

163-227.3. Date by which absentee ballots must be available for voting.

(a) A board of elections shall provide absentee ballots of the kinds needed 60 days prior to the statewide general election in even-numbered years and 50 days prior to the date on which any other election shall be conducted, unless 45 days is authorized by the State Board of Elections under G.S. 163-22(k) or there shall exist an appeal before the State Board or the courts not concluded, in which case the board shall provide the ballots as quickly as possible upon the conclusion of such an appeal. Provided, in a presidential election year, the board of elections shall provide general election ballots no later than three days after nomination of the presidential and vice presidential candidates if that nomination occurs later than 63 days prior to the statewide general election and makes compliance with the 60-day deadline impossible. However, in the case of municipal elections, absentee ballots shall be made available no later than 30 days before an election. In every instance the board of elections shall exert every effort to provide absentee ballots, of the kinds needed by the date on which absentee voting is authorized to commence.

(b) Second Primary. - The board of elections shall provide absentee ballots, of the kinds needed, as quickly as possible after the ballot information for a second primary has been determined. (1973, c. 1275; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 986, s. 2; 1987, c. 485, ss. 2, 5; c. 509, s. 9; 1989, c. 635, s. 5; 2001-353, s. 4; 2002-159, s. 55(i); 2009-537, s. 2; 2013-381, s. 17(a).)

 

163-228. Register of absentee requests, applications, and ballots issued; a public record.

The State Board of Elections shall approve an official register in which the county board of elections in each county of the State shall record the following information:

(1) Name of voter for whom application and ballots are being requested, and, if applicable, the name and address of the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian who requested the application and ballots for the voter.

(2) Number of assigned voter's application when issued.

(3) Precinct in which applicant is registered.

(4) Address to which ballots are to be mailed, or, if the voter voted pursuant to G.S. 163-227.2, a notation of that fact.

(5) Repealed by Session Laws 2009-537, s. 3, effective January 1, 2010, and applicable with respect to elections held on or after that date.

(6) Date request for application for ballots is received by the county board of elections.

(7) The voter's party affiliation.

(8) The date the ballots were mailed or delivered to the voter.

(9) Whatever additional information and official action may be required by this Article.

The State Board of Elections may provide for the register to be kept by electronic data processing equipment, and a copy shall be printed out each business day or a supplement printed out each business day of new information.

The register of absentee requests, applications and ballots issued shall constitute a public record and shall be opened to the inspection of any registered voter of the county within 60 days before and 30 days after an election in which absentee ballots were authorized, or at any other time when good and sufficient reason may be assigned for its inspection. (1939, c. 159, ss. 3, 9; 1945, c. 758, s. 8; 1953, c. 1114; 1963, c. 457, s. 3; 1965, c. 1208; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; c. 952, s. 4; 1973, c. 536, s. 1; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; 1991, c. 636, s. 21; 1999-455, s. 7; 2009-537, s. 3.)

 

163-229. Absentee ballots, applications on container-return envelopes, and instruction sheets.

(a) Absentee Ballot Form. - In accordance with the provisions of G.S. 163-230.1, persons entitled to vote by absentee ballot shall be furnished with official ballots.

(b) Application on Container-Return Envelope. - In time for use not later than 60 days before a statewide general election in an even-numbered year, and not later than 50 days before a statewide primary, other general election or county bond election, the county board of elections shall print a sufficient number of envelopes in which persons casting absentee ballots may transmit their marked ballots to the county board of elections. However, in the case of municipal elections, sufficient container-return envelopes shall be made available no later than 30 days before an election. Each container-return envelope shall have printed on it an application which shall be designed and prescribed by the State Board of Elections, providing for all of the following:

(1) The voter's certification of eligibility to vote the enclosed ballot and of having voted the enclosed ballot in accordance with this Article.

(2) A space for identification of the envelope with the voter and the voter's signature.

(3) A space for the identification of the two persons witnessing the casting of the absentee ballot in accordance with G.S. 163-231, those persons' signatures, and those persons' addresses.

(4) A space for the name and address of any person who, as permitted under G.S. 163-226.3(a), assisted the voter if the voter is unable to complete and sign the certification and that individual's signature.

(5) A space for approval by the county board of elections.

(6) A space to allow reporting of a change of name as provided by G.S. 163-82.16.

(7) A prominent display of the unlawful acts under G.S. 163-226.3 and G.S. 163-275, except if there is not room on the envelope, the State Board of Elections may provide for that disclosure to be made on a separate piece of paper to be included along with the container-return envelope.

The container-return envelope shall be printed in accordance with the instructions of the State Board of Elections.

(c) Instruction Sheets. - In time for use not later than 60 days before a statewide general election in an even-numbered year, and not later than 50 days before a statewide primary, other general or county bond election, the county board of elections shall prepare and print a sufficient number of sheets of instructions on how voters are to prepare absentee ballots and return them to the county board of elections. However, in the case of municipal elections, instruction sheets shall be made available no later than 30 days before an election. (1929, c. 164, s. 39; 1939, c. 159, ss. 3, 4; 1943, c. 751, s. 2; 1963, c. 457, ss. 3, 4; 1965, c. 1208; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; c. 851, s. 1; c. 952, s. 5; 1973, c. 536, s. 1; 1975, c. 844, s. 13; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; 1985, c. 562, ss. 3, 4; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 986, s. 2; 1987, c. 485, ss. 2, 5; c. 509, s. 9; c. 583, s. 3; 1989, c. 635, s. 5; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 561, s. 5; 1999-455, s. 8; 2009-537, s. 4; 2013-381, s. 4.1.)

 

163-230. Repealed by Session Laws 1999-455, s. 9.

 

163-230.1. Simultaneous issuance of absentee ballots with application.

(a) A qualified voter who desires to vote by absentee ballot, or that voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian, shall complete a request form for an absentee application and absentee ballots so that the county board of elections receives that completed request form not later than 5:00 P.M. on the Tuesday before the election. That completed written request form shall be in compliance with G.S. 163-230.2. The county board of elections shall enter in the register of absentee requests, applications, and ballots issued the information required in G.S. 163-228 as soon as each item of that information becomes available. Upon receiving the completed request form, the county board of elections shall cause to be mailed to that voter a single package that includes all of the following:

(1) The official ballots that voter is entitled to vote.

(2) A container-return envelope for the ballots, printed in accordance with G.S. 163-229.

(3) Repealed by Session Laws 1999-455, s. 10.

(4) An instruction sheet.

The ballots, envelope, and instructions shall be mailed to the voter by the county board's chairman, member, officer, or employee as determined by the board and entered in the register as provided by this Article.

(a1) Absence for Sickness or Physical Disability. - Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, if a voter expects to be unable to go to the voting place to vote in person on election day because of that voter's sickness or other physical disability, that voter or that voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian may make the request under subsection (a) of this section in person to the board of elections of the county in which the voter is registered after 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election but not later than 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election. The county board of elections shall treat that completed request form in the same manner as a request under subsection (a) of this section but may personally deliver the application and ballots to the voter or that voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian.

(a2) Delivery of Absentee Ballots and Container-Return Envelope to Applicant. - When the county board of elections receives a completed request form for applications and absentee ballots, the board shall promptly issue and transmit them to the voter in accordance with the following instructions:

(1) On the top margin of each ballot the applicant is entitled to vote, the chair, a member, officer, or employee of the board of elections shall write or type the words "Absentee Ballot No. ____ " or an abbreviation approved by the State Board of Elections and insert in the blank space the number assigned the applicant's application in the register of absentee requests, applications, and ballots issued. That person shall not write, type, or print any other matter upon the ballots transmitted to the absentee voter. Alternatively, the board of elections may cause to be barcoded on the ballot the voter's application number, if that barcoding system is approved by the State Board of Elections.

(2) The chair, member, officer, or employee of the board of elections shall fold and place the ballots (identified in accordance with the preceding instruction) in a container-return envelope and write or type in the appropriate blanks thereon, in accordance with the terms of G.S. 163-229(b), the absentee voter's name, the absentee voter's application number, and the designation of the precinct in which the voter is registered. If the ballot is barcoded under this section, the envelope may be barcoded rather than having the actual number appear. The person placing the ballots in the envelopes shall leave the container-return envelope holding the ballots unsealed.

(3) The chair, member, officer, or employee of the board of elections shall then place the unsealed container-return envelope holding the ballots together with printed instructions for voting and returning the ballots, in an envelope addressed to the voter at the post office address stated in the request, seal the envelope, and mail it at the expense of the county board of elections: Provided, that in case of a request received after 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election under the provisions of subsection (a1) of this section, in lieu of transmitting the ballots to the voter in person or by mail, the chair, member, officer, or employee of the board of elections may deliver the sealed envelope containing the instruction sheet and the container-return envelope holding the ballots to a near relative or verifiable legal guardian of the voter.

The county board of elections may receive completed written request forms for applications at any time prior to the election but shall not mail applications and ballots to the voter or issue applications and ballots in person earlier than 60 days prior to the statewide general election in an even-numbered year, or earlier than 50 days prior to any other election, except as provided in G.S. 163-227.2. No election official shall issue applications for absentee ballots except in compliance with this Article.

(b) The application shall be completed and signed by the voter personally, the ballots marked, the ballots sealed in the container-return envelope, and the certificate completed as provided in G.S. 163-231.

(c) At its next official meeting after return of the completed container-return envelope with the voter's ballots, the county board of elections shall determine whether the container-return envelope has been properly executed. If the board determines that the container-return envelope has been properly executed, it shall approve the application and deposit the container-return envelope with other container-return envelopes for the envelope to be opened and the ballots counted at the same time as all other container-return envelopes and absentee ballots.

(c1) Required Meeting of County Board of Elections. - During the period commencing on the third Tuesday before an election, in which absentee ballots are authorized, the county board of elections shall hold one or more public meetings each Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. for the purpose of action on applications for absentee ballots. At these meetings, the county board of elections shall pass upon applications for absentee ballots.

If the county board of elections changes the time of holding its meetings or provides for additional meetings in accordance with the terms of this subsection, notice of the change in hour and notice of the schedule of additional meetings, if any, shall be published in a newspaper circulated in the county at least 30 days prior to the election.

At the time the county board of elections makes its decision on an application for absentee ballots, the board shall enter in the appropriate column in the register of absentee requests, applications, and ballots issued opposite the name of the applicant a notation of whether the applicant's application was "Approved" or "Disapproved".

The decision of the board on the validity of an application for absentee ballots shall be final subject only to such review as may be necessary in the event of an election contest. The county board of elections shall constitute the proper official body to pass upon the validity of all applications for absentee ballots received in the county; this function shall not be performed by the chairman or any other member of the board individually.

(d) Repealed by Session Laws 1999-455, s. 10.

(e) The State Board of Elections, by rule or by instruction to the county board of elections, shall establish procedures to provide appropriate safeguards in the implementation of this section.

(f) For the purpose of this Article, "near relative" means spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild. (1983, c. 304, s. 1; 1985, c. 759, ss. 5.1-5.5; 1991, c. 727, s. 6.3; 1993, c. 553, s. 67; 1995, c. 243, s. 1; 1999-455, s. 10; 2001-337, s. 3; 2002-159, s. 55(m); 2009-537, s. 5; 2013-381, s. 4.2.)

 

163-230.2. Method of requesting absentee ballots.

(a) Valid Types of Written Requests. - A completed written request form for an absentee ballot as required by G.S. 163-230.1 is valid only if it is on a form created by the State Board and signed by the voter requesting absentee ballots or that voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian. The State Board shall make the form available at its offices, online, and in each county board of elections office, and that form may be reproduced. A voter may make a request in person or by writing to the county board for the form to request an absentee ballot. The request form for an absentee ballot shall require at least the following information:

(1) The name and address of the residence of the voter.

(2) The name and address of the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian if that individual is making the request.

(3) The address of the voter to which the application and absentee ballots are to be mailed if different from the residence address of the voter.

(4) One or more of the following in the order of preference:

a. The number of the voter's North Carolina drivers license issued under Article 2 of Chapter 20 of the General Statutes, including a learner's permit or a provisional license.

b. The number of the voter's special identification card for nonoperators issued under G.S. 20-37.7.

c. The last four digits of the applicant's social security number.

(5) The voter's date of birth.

(6) The signature of the voter or of the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian if that individual is making the request.

(a1) A completed request form for an absentee ballot shall be deemed a request to update the official record of voter registration for that voter and shall be confirmed in writing in accordance with G.S. 163-82.14(d).

(a2) The completed request form for an absentee ballot shall be delivered to the county board of elections. If the voter does not include the information requested in subdivision (a)(4) of this section, a copy of a document listed in G.S. 163-166.12(a)(2) shall accompany the completed request form.

(a3) Upon receiving a completed request form for an absentee ballot, the county board shall confirm that voter's registration. If that voter is confirmed as a registered voter of the county, the absentee ballots and certification form shall be mailed to the voter, unless personally delivered in accordance with G.S. 163-230.1(a1). If the voter's official record of voter registration conflicts with the completed request form for an absentee ballot or cannot be confirmed, the voter shall be so notified. If the county board cannot resolve the differences, no application or absentee ballots shall be issued.

(b) Invalid Types of Written Requests. - A request is not valid if it does not comply with subsection (a) of this section. If a county board of elections receives a request for an absentee ballot that does not comply with subsection (a) of this section, the board shall not issue an application and ballot under G.S. 163-230.1.

(c) Rules by State Board. - The State Board of Elections shall adopt rules for the enforcement of this section. (2002-159, s. 57(a); 2013-381, s. 4.3.)

 

163-231. Voting absentee ballots and transmitting them to the county board of elections.

(a) Procedure for Voting Absentee Ballots. - In the presence of two persons who are at least 18 years of age, and who are not disqualified by G.S. 163-226.3(a)(4) or G.S. 163-237(b1), the voter shall do all of the following:

(1) Mark the voter's ballots, or cause them to be marked by that person in the voter's presence according to the voter's instruction.

(2) Fold each ballot separately, or cause each of them to be folded in the voter's presence.

(3) Place the folded ballots in the container-return envelope and securely seal it, or have this done in the voter's presence.

(4) Make the application printed on the container-return envelope according to the provisions of G.S. 163-229(b) and make the certificate printed on the container-return envelope according to the provisions of G.S. 163-229(b).

(5) Require those two persons in whose presence the voter marked that voter's ballots to sign the application and certificate as witnesses and to indicate those persons' addresses. Failure to list a ZIP code does not invalidate the application and certificate.

Alternatively to the prior paragraph of this subsection, any requirement for two witnesses shall be satisfied if witnessed by one notary public, who shall comply with all the other requirements of that paragraph. The notary shall affix a valid notarial seal to the envelope, and include the word "Notary Public" below his or her signature.

The persons in whose presence the ballot is marked shall at all times respect the secrecy of the ballot and the privacy of the absentee voter, unless the voter requests assistance and that person is otherwise authorized by law to give assistance. When thus executed, the sealed container-return envelope, with the ballots enclosed, shall be transmitted in accordance with the provisions of subsection (b) of this section to the county board of elections which issued the ballots.

(a1) Repealed by Session Laws 1987, c. 583, s. 1.

(b) Transmitting Executed Absentee Ballots to County Board of Elections. - The sealed container-return envelope in which executed absentee ballots have been placed shall be transmitted to the county board of elections who issued those ballots as follows:

(1) All ballots issued under the provisions of this Article and Article 21A of this Chapter shall be transmitted by mail or by commercial courier service, at the voter's expense, or delivered in person, or by the voter's near relative or verifiable legal guardian and received by the county board not later than 5:00 p.m. on the day of the statewide primary or general election or county bond election. Ballots issued under the provisions of Article 21A of this Chapter may also be electronically transmitted.

(2) If ballots are received later than the hour stated in subdivision (1) of this subsection, those ballots shall not be accepted unless one of the following applies:

a. Federal law so requires.

b. The ballots issued under this Article are postmarked and that postmark is dated on or before the day of the statewide primary or general election or county bond election and are received by the county board of elections not later than three days after the election by 5:00 p.m.

c. The ballots issued under Article 21A of this Chapter are received by the county board of elections not later than the end of business on the business day before the canvass conducted by the county board of elections held pursuant to G.S. 163-182.5.

(c) For purposes of this section, "Delivered in person" includes delivering the ballot to an election official at a one-stop voting site under G.S. 163-227.2 during any time that site is open for voting. The ballots shall be kept securely and delivered by election officials at that site to the county board of elections office for processing. (1939, c. 159, ss. 2, 5; 1941, c. 248; 1943, c. 736; c. 751, s. 1; 1945, c. 758, s. 5; 1963, c. 457, ss. 2, 5; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1971, c. 1247, s. 3; 1973, c. 536, s. 1; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; 1979, c. 799, s. 5; 1985, c. 562, ss. 1, 2; 1987, c. 583, ss. 1, 2; 1989 (Reg. Sess., 1990), c. 991, s. 4; 1999-455, s. 11; 2009-537, ss. 6, 8(a); 2011-182, s. 5; 2013-381, s. 4.4; 2014-111, s. 11.)

 

163-232. Certified list of executed absentee ballots; distribution of list.

The county board of elections shall prepare, or cause to be prepared, a list in at least quadruplicate, of all absentee ballots returned to the county board of elections to be counted, which have been approved by the county board of elections, and which have been received as of 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election. At the end of the list, the chair shall execute the following certificate under oath:

"State of North Carolina

County of ______________

I, ______________, chair of the ____________ County board of elections, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a list of all executed absentee ballots to be voted in the election to be conducted on the ____________ day of ______________, ________, which have been approved by the county board of elections and which have been returned no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election. I certify that the chair, member, officer, or employee of the board of elections has not delivered ballots for absentee voting to any person other than the voter, by mail or by commercial courier service or in person, except as provided by law, and have not mailed or delivered ballots when the request for the ballot was received after the deadline provided by law.

This the ______ day of ______, ______

____________________

(Signature of chair of

county board of elections)

Sworn to and subscribed before me this ____________ day of ______, _____.

Witness my hand and official seal.

________________

(Signature of officer

administering oath)

________________

(Title of officer)"

No later than 10:00 a.m. on election day, the county board of elections shall cause one copy of the list of executed absentee ballots, which may be a continuing countywide list or a separate list for each precinct, to be immediately (i) submitted electronically in a manner approved by the State Board of Elections or (ii) deposited as "first-class" mail to the State Board of Elections. The board shall retain one copy in the board office for public inspection and the board shall cause two copies of the appropriate precinct list to be delivered to the chief judge of each precinct in the county. The county board of elections shall be authorized to call upon the sheriff of the county to distribute the list to the precincts. In addition the county board of elections shall, upon request, provide a copy of the complete list to the chair of each political party, recognized under the provisions of G.S. 163-96, represented in the county.

The chief judge shall post one copy of the list immediately in a conspicuous location in the voting place and retain one copy until all challenges of absentee ballots have been heard by the county board of elections. Challenges shall be made to absentee ballots as provided in G.S. 163-89.

After receipt of the list of absentee voters required by this section the chief judge shall call the name of each person recorded on the list and enter an "A" in the appropriate voting square on the voter's permanent registration record, or a similar entry on the computer list used at the polls. If such person is already recorded as having voted in that election, the chief judge shall enter a challenge which shall be presented to the county board of elections for resolution by the board of elections prior to certification of results by the board.

All lists required by this section shall be retained by the county board of elections for a period of 22 months after which they may then be destroyed. (1939, c. 159, s. 6; 1943, c. 751, s. 3; 1963, c. 457, s. 6; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1973, c. 536, s. 1; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; 1981, c. 155, s. 1; c. 305, s. 4; 1985, c. 600, s. 7; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 54; 1999-455, s. 12; 1999-456, s. 59; 2015-103, s. 3(a).)

 

163-232.1. Certified list of executed absentee ballots received on or after election day; publication of list.

(a) The county board of elections shall prepare, or cause to be prepared, a list in at least triplicate, of all absentee ballots issued under Article 20 of this Chapter returned to the county board of elections to be counted, which have been approved by the county board of elections, have not been included on the certified list prepared pursuant to G.S. 163-232, and which have been postmarked by the day of the statewide primary or general election or county bond election and received by the county board of elections not later than three days after the election by 5:00 p.m. The list shall be supplemented with new information each business day following the day of the election until the deadline for receipt of such absentee ballots. At the end of the list, the chairman shall execute the following certificate under oath:

"State of North Carolina

County of ____

I, ____, chairman of the ____ County Board of Elections, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a list of all executed absentee ballots to be voted in the election to be conducted on the ____ day of ____ , which have been approved by the county board of elections and which have been postmarked by the day of the statewide primary or general election or county bond election and received by the county board of elections not later than three days after the election by 5:00 p.m. I certify that the chairman, member, officer, or employee of the board of elections has not delivered ballots for absentee voting to any person other than the voter, by mail or by commercial courier service or in person, except as provided by law, and have not mailed or delivered ballots when the request for the ballot was received after the deadline provided by law.

This the ________ day of ________, ____

__________________________________

(Signature of chairman of

county board of elections)

 

Sworn to and subscribed before me this ________ day of ________, ________.

Witness my hand and official seal.

___________________

(Signature of officer

administering oath)

________________

(Title of officer)"

(b) The county board of elections shall prepare, or cause to be prepared, a list in at least triplicate, of all military-overseas ballots issued under Article 21A of this Chapter and returned to the county board of elections to be counted, which have been approved by the county board of elections, have not been included on the certified list prepared pursuant to G.S. 163-232, and which have been received by the county board of elections not later than three days after the election by 5:00 p.m. The list shall be supplemented with new information each business day following the day of the election until the deadline for receipt of such absentee ballots. At the end of the list, the chair shall execute the following certificate under oath:

"State of North Carolina

County of ____

I, ____, chair of the ____ County Board of Elections, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a list of all executed military-overseas ballots to be voted in the election to be conducted on the ____ day of ____, ____, which have been approved by the county board of elections, and which have been postmarked by the day of the statewide primary or general election or county bond election and received by the county board of elections not later than three days after the election by 5:00 p.m. I further certify that I have issued ballots to no other persons than those listed herein and further that I have not delivered military-overseas ballots to persons other than those listed herein; that this list constitutes the only precinct registration of covered voters whose names have not heretofore been entered on the regular registration of the appropriate precinct.

This the ________ day of ________, ____

_____________________

(Signature of chair of

county board of elections)

 

Sworn to and subscribed before me this ________ day of ________, ________.

Witness my hand and official seal.

___________________

(Signature of officer

administering oath)

________________

(Title of officer)"

(c) The board shall post one copy of the most current version of each list in the board office in a conspicuous location for public inspection and shall retain one copy until all challenges of absentee ballots have been heard by the county board of elections. The county board of elections shall cause one copy of each of the final lists of executed absentee ballots required under subsection (a) and subsection (b) of this section to be (i) submitted electronically in a manner approved by the State Board of Elections or (ii) deposited as "first-class" mail to the State Board of Elections. The final lists shall be electronically submitted or mailed no later than 10:00 a.m. of the next business day following the deadline for receipt of such absentee ballots. Challenges shall be made to absentee ballots as provided in G.S. 163-89. In addition the county board of elections shall, upon request, provide a copy of each of the lists to the chair of each political party, recognized under the provisions of G.S. 163-96, represented in the county.

(d) All lists required by this section shall be retained by the county board of elections for a period of 22 months after which they may then be destroyed. (2009-537, s. 8(b); 2011-182, s. 6; 2015-103, s. 3(b).)

 

163-233. Applications for absentee ballots; how retained.

The county board of elections shall retain, in a safe place, the original of all applications made for absentee ballots and shall make them available to inspection by the State Board of Elections or to any person upon the directive of the State Board of Elections.

All applications for absentee ballots shall be retained by the county board of elections for a period of one year after which they may be destroyed. (1939, c. 159, s. 7; 1943, c. 751, s. 4; 1963, c. 457, s. 7; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1973, c. 536, s. 1; c. 1075, s. 5; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; 1999-455, s. 13.)

 

163-233.1. Withdrawal of absentee ballots not allowed.

No person shall be permitted to withdraw an absentee ballot after such ballot has been mailed to or returned to the county board of elections. (1973, c. 536, s. 1; 1977, c. 469, s. 1.)

 

163-234. Counting absentee ballots by county board of elections.

All absentee ballots returned to the county board of elections in the container-return envelopes shall be retained by the board to be counted by the county board of elections as herein provided.

(1) Only those absentee ballots returned to the county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day before election day in a properly executed container-return envelope or absentee ballots received pursuant to G.S. 163-231(b)(ii) or (iii) shall be counted, except to the extent federal law requires otherwise.

(2) The county board of elections shall meet at 5:00 p.m. on election day in the board office or other public location in the county courthouse for the purpose of counting all absentee ballots except those which have been challenged before 5:00 p.m. on election day and those received pursuant to G.S. 163-231(b)(ii) or (iii). Any elector of the county shall be permitted to attend the meeting and allowed to observe the counting process, provided the elector shall not in any manner interfere with the election officials in the discharge of their duties.

Provided, that the county board of elections is authorized to begin counting absentee ballots issued under Article 21A of this Chapter between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. and to begin counting all absentee ballots between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. upon the adoption of a resolution at least two weeks prior to the election wherein the hour and place of counting absentee ballots shall be stated. Such resolution also may provide for an additional meeting following the day of the election and prior to the day of canvass to count absentee ballots received pursuant to G.S. 163-231(b)(ii) or (iii) as provided in subdivision (10) of this section. A copy of the resolutions shall be published once a week for two weeks prior to the election, in a newspaper having general circulation in the county. Notice may additionally be made on a radio or television station or both, but such notice shall be in addition to the newspaper and other required notice. The count shall be continuous until completed and the members shall not separate or leave the counting place except for unavoidable necessity, except that if the count has been completed prior to the time the polls close, it shall be suspended until that time pending receipt of any additional ballots. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a county board of elections from taking preparatory steps for the count earlier than the times specified in this section, as long as the preparatory steps do not reveal to any individual not engaged in the actual count election results before the times specified in this subdivision for the count to begin. By way of illustration and not limitation, a preparatory step for the count would be the entry of tally cards from direct record electronic voting units into a computer for processing. The board shall not announce the result of the count before 7:30 p.m.

(2a) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (2) of this section, a county board of elections may, at each meeting at which it approves absentee ballot applications pursuant to G.S. 163-230.1(c) and (c1), remove those ballots from their envelopes and have them read by an optical scanning machine, without printing the totals on the scanner. The board shall complete the counting of these ballots at the times provided in subdivision (2) of this section. The State Board of Elections shall provide instructions to county boards of elections for executing this procedure, and the instructions shall be designed to ensure the accuracy of the count, the participation of board members of both parties, and the secrecy of the results before election day. This subdivision applies only in counties that use optical scan devices to count absentee ballots.

(3) The counting of absentee ballots shall not commence until a majority and at least one board member of each political party represented on the board is present and that fact is publicly declared and entered in the official minutes of the county board.

(4) The county board of elections may employ such assistants as deemed necessary to count the absentee ballots, but each board member present shall be responsible for and observe and supervise the opening and tallying of the ballots.

(5) As each ballot envelope is opened, the board shall cause to be entered into a pollbook designated "Pollbook of Absentee Voters" the name of the absentee voter, or if the pollbook is computer-generated, the board shall check off the name. Preserving secrecy, the ballots shall be placed in the appropriate ballot boxes, at least one of which shall be provided for each type of ballot. The "Pollbook of Absentee Voters" shall also contain the names of all persons who voted under G.S. 163-227.2, but those names may be printed by computer for inclusion in the pollbook.

After all ballots have been placed in the boxes, the counting process shall begin.

If one-stop ballots under G.S. 163-227.2 are counted electronically, that count shall commence at the time the polls close. If one-stop ballots are paper ballots counted manually, that count shall commence at the same time as other absentee ballots are counted.

If a challenge transmitted to the board on canvass day by a chief judge is sustained, the ballots challenged and sustained shall be withdrawn from the appropriate boxes, as provided in G.S. 163-89(e).

As soon as the absentee ballots have been counted and the names of the absentee voters entered in the pollbook as required herein, the board members and assistants employed to count the absentee ballots shall each sign the pollbook immediately beneath the last absentee voter's name entered therein. The county board of elections shall be responsible for the safekeeping of the pollbook of absentee voters.

(6) Upon completion of the counting process the board members shall cause the results of the tally to be entered on the absentee abstract prescribed by the State Board of Elections. The abstract shall be signed by the members of the board in attendance and the original mailed immediately to the State Board of Elections. The county board of elections may have a separate count on the abstract for one-stop absentee ballots under G.S. 163-227.2.

(7) One copy of the absentee abstract shall be retained by the county board of elections and the totals appearing thereon shall be added to the final totals of all votes cast in the county for each office as determined on the official canvass.

(8) In the event a political party does not have a member of the county board of elections present at the meeting to count absentee ballots due to illness or other cause of the member, the counting shall not commence until the county party chairman of said absent member, or a member of the party's county executive committee, is in attendance. Such person shall act as an official witness to the counting and shall sign the absentee ballot abstract as an "observer."

(9) The county board of elections shall retain all container-return envelopes and absentee ballots, in a safe place, for at least four months, and longer if any contest is pending concerning the validity of any ballot.

(10) The county board of elections shall meet after election day and prior to the date of canvass to determine where the container-return envelopes for absentee ballots received pursuant to G.S. 163-231(b)(ii) or (iii) has been properly executed. The county board of elections shall comply with the requirements of G.S. 163-230.1 for approval of applications. Any absentee ballots received pursuant to G.S. 163-231(b)(ii) or (iii) shall be counted by the county board of elections on the day of canvass. The county board of elections is also authorized to meet following the day of the election and prior to the day of canvass to count absentee ballots received pursuant to G.S. 163-231(b)(ii) or (iii) upon the adoption of a resolution pursuant to subdivision (2) of this section. The county board of elections shall comply with all other requirements of this section for the counting of such absentee ballots. (1939, c. 159, ss. 8, 9; 1945, c. 758, s. 8; 1953, c. 1114; 1963, c. 547, s. 8; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; c. 851, s. 2; 1973, c. 536, s. 1; 1975, c. 798, s. 3; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; c. 626, s. 1; 1989, c. 93, s. 7; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 55; 1995, c. 243, s. 1; 1999-455, s. 14; 2005-159, s. 1; 2006-262, s. 1; 2009-537, s. 8(d); 2011-182, s. 7.)

 

163-235. Repealed by Session Laws 1973, c. 536, s. 5.

 

163-236. Violations by county board of elections.

The county board of elections shall be sole custodian of blank applications for absentee ballots, official ballots, and container-return envelopes for absentee ballots. The board shall issue and deliver blank applications for absentee ballots in strict accordance with the provisions of G.S. 163-230.1. The issuance of ballots to persons whose requests for absentee ballots have been received by the county board of elections under the provisions of G.S. 163-230.1 is the responsibility and duty of the county board of elections.

It shall be the duty of the county board of elections to keep current all records required by this Article and to make promptly all reports required by this Article. If that duty has been assigned to the chair, member, officer, or employee of the board of elections, that person shall carry out the duty.

The willful violation of this section shall constitute a Class 2 misdemeanor. (1939, c. 159, s. 14; 1963, c. 457, s. 10; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; 1987, c. 565, s. 9; 1993, c. 539, s. 1105; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1999-455, s. 15.)

 

163-237. Certain violations of absentee ballot law made criminal offenses.

(a) False Statements under Oath Made Class 2 Misdemeanor. - If any person shall willfully and falsely make any affidavit or statement, under oath, which affidavit or statement under oath, is required to be made by the provisions of this Article, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

(b) False Statements Not under Oath Made Class 2 Misdemeanor. - Except as provided by G.S. 163-275(16), if any person, for the purpose of obtaining or voting any official ballot under the provisions of this Article, shall willfully sign any printed or written false statement which does not purport to be under oath, or which, if it purports to be under oath, was not duly sworn to, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

(b1) Candidate Witnessing Absentee Ballots of Nonrelative Made Class 2 Misdemeanor. - A person is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor if that person acts as a witness under G.S. 163-231(a) in any primary or election in which the person is a candidate for nomination or election, unless the voter is the candidate's near relative as defined in G.S. 163-230.1(f).

(c) Fraud in Connection with Absentee Vote; Forgery. - Any person attempting to aid and abet fraud in connection with any absentee vote cast or to be cast, under the provisions of this Article, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Attempting to vote by fraudulently signing the name of a regularly qualified voter is a Class I felony.

(d) Violations Not Otherwise Provided for Made Class 2 Misdemeanors. - If any person shall willfully violate any of the provisions of this Article, or willfully fail to comply with any of the provisions thereof, for which no other punishment is herein provided, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. (1929, c. 164, s. 40; 1939, c. 159, ss. 12, 13, 15; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1977, c. 469, s. 1, 1985, c. 562, s. 6; 1987, c. 565, s. 8; 1993, c. 539, ss. 1106, 1324; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1999-455, s. 22; 2014-111, s. 15(b).)

 

163-238. Reports of violations to district attorneys.

It shall be the duty of the State Board of Elections to report to the district attorney of the appropriate prosecutorial district, any violation of this Article, or the failure of any person charged with a duty under its provisions to comply with and perform that duty, and it shall be the duty of the district attorney to cause such a person to be prosecuted therefor. (1939, c. 159, s. 16; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1977, c. 469, s. 1.)

 

163-239. Article 21A relating to absentee voting by military and overseas voters not applicable.

Except as otherwise provided therein, Article 21A of this Chapter shall not apply to or modify the provisions of this Article. (1963, c. 457, s. 11; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1977, c. 469, s. 1; 2011-182, s. 8.)

 

163-240 to 163-240.5. Expired July 1, 1972.

 

163-241 through 163-244. Reserved for future codification purposes.