With a little over a week left until Election Day and millions of North Carolina voters having already cast their ballots, the power and importance of voting early has never been more clear.
For many, the stakes were too high to wait. In addition to the state’s high-profile role in this year’s presidential election, North Carolina’s voters will shape the balance of power in the U.S. Congress, the outcomes of statewide judicial races that control life and death decisions and how our constitution is interpreted, the composition of a state legislature which will determine a decade’s worth of voting maps, and local governance which touches our lives every day.
Though we are living in uncertain times, voting early makes it more likely that voters can fix or avoid problems altogether. Submitting your absentee ballot now or heading to the polls in-person during North Carolina’s early voting period could also contribute to earlier election results on all of the key races on your ballot.
Voters have protections and options. A renewed cure process to fix mail-in ballots with mistakes has led to higher absentee voting success rates than in any recent prior election. Additional polling locations and extended in-person Early Voting hours also provide more opportunities for safer social distancing. Now more than ever, voters have the options they need to effectively cast their ballots sooner than later.
If you choose to vote early in person, you can take advantage of same-day voter registration, which allows voters to register and vote in a single visit to an early voting location. It’s great for first-time voters, but it’s also valuable if you have moved and haven’t changed your registration address, and is a helpful backstop against any other potential issues. This is not available on Election Day, Nov. 3 — one more reason to take advantage of early voting, which ends Saturday.
Before you head to the polls, check out all of the great voter information at ncvoter.org. The state’s premier online voter education hub offers step-by-step instructions on voting by mail and looking up your sample ballot, provides easy access to early voting options, and even features nonpartisan voter guides that give you the information you need to make an informed choice this fall.
For example, check out valuable resources reminding you of what you need to register and vote at early voting locations (a document with your name and address like a pay stub or utility bill), reasons you can take advantage of curbside voting (including medical conditions that makes you more at risk for COVID), and important tips to know if you’re considering voting in-person (available even if you’ve requested an absentee ballot).
Experts at Democracy North Carolina operate a statewide voter assistance hotline, 888-OUR-VOTE (888-687-8683). The hotline received over 1,100 calls the first day of early voting and has been answering hundreds of calls since. From assisting voters as they navigate the absentee ballot process to helping counties deal with overzealous electioneers, our experts are available to help as they answer record inquiries from all corners of the state.
For the 2020 General Election over 2,000 volunteers in yellow 888-OUR-VOTE T-shirts will be deployed statewide during early voting and Election Day to be the eyes and ears on the ground for voters and election officials and connect voters to our popular nonpartisan hotline. These volunteers will meet voters where they are in nearly all 100 counties.
Democracy North Carolina and our volunteers will be taking your calls and protecting your polls across the state in the days to come because it has never been more important to stand up for the fundamental right to vote. In turn, North Carolina voters must show up too. Whether your vote is cast in person or by mail, your voice should be heard.
Tomas Lopez is executive director for the statewide voting rights group, Democracy North Carolina. Call 888-OUR-VOTE with questions or to report problems at the polls.