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The Upcoming Election Information web page from the Wake County Board of Elections (WCBOE) is a key source. All in one place it has links for just about everything you might need to do. You can check or change your registration information, e.g., your residence address, party affiliation, voting jurisdictions, and precinct polling place. You can view an image of the exact ballot that applies to you for this election (your sample ballot), find early voting sites, see how to vote absentee, check your absentee ballot status, and more. Updated: 9/13/20
For almost all voters a photo ID will NOT be required in this election. There are only a few, first-time voters who need some special ID processing to complete their registration, which for some reason did not complete during the normal process. North Carolina elections have worked this way since 2016. Updated: 9/17/20
If you are currently unregistered in Wake County and have not missed the deadline for mail-in or DMV online portal registration, you may still have time to register for this election. See near the bottom of the WCBOE home page for deadline information. If you miss the deadline, you CAN register and vote on the same day at an early voting site, but only at an early voting site. You CANNOT get registered at your polling place on Election Day. If on Election Day you are still not shown as being registered, you will not be able to vote except by a provisional ballot; as a result there is no guarantee that your vote will be counted. Note that if your registration request was submitted but missed the deadline, it should get processed eventually and will apply to following elections. Updated: 9/17/20
At any time you can update your current registration data, e.g., your residence address if you have moved recently. Of course if you wait too long, your old information will still be in the BOE database on Election Day, which will require you and the Precinct Officials to spend much more effort to determine and apply your current information. You may have to drive to multiple polling places on Election Day and wait in line(s) at each before you can vote if you don't keep your registration data up-to-date. I hope the point has been made. Updated: 9/17/20
Because of COVID-19, both the NC State Board of Elections (NCSBE) and the Wake County Board of Elections (WCBOE) encourage you to vote early, either by an absentee ballot or at an early voting site. You can view a sample ballot in your voter registration information accessed via the Voter Search web page. For the 19-19 and 19-18 precincts, all voters will get ballot style B0002. It is complex (35 contests). Using the B0002 sample ballot, you can start doing candidate research well before you get your actual ballot to vote. You can print and mark up a sample ballot to use for notes to help you later mark the real ballot for mailing or at a polling place.
You can now request an absentee ballot by using the new North Carolina Absentee Ballot Request Portal. Or you can mail, email, or fax an absentee ballot request form as before.
As of 9/12/20 nearly 11% of NC's over 7 million registered voters had requested absentee ballots. Wake County has about 11% of the 7 million NC voters, so probably over 80,000 absentee ballots have already been requested in just our county. For more recent numbers check the following two web pages. The NCSBE home page displays the current numbers for NC registered voters and requested absentee ballots, as well as providing some useful state-related links. The top of the WCBOE home page displays some recent voter statistics, including the number of registered voters in Wake County. Updated: 9/15/20
On 9/4/20 the Wake County BOE started mailing absentee ballots to those who had requested them. The BOE says they can send about 10,000 a day. I received mine on 9/5/20. On the same day I completed everything per the instructions and mailed the envelope/ballot back using the blue mailbox by the Rolesville post office as a safety precaution. On 9/10/20 they posted on the Voter Search web page that my ballot had been accepted -- a good turnaround considering the weekend and Labor Day Post Office delays and that the BOE was just getting started with all this.
Note that "accepted" just means the return envelope had been received and found to be error free. As I understand it, the envelope won't be opened and the enclosed ballot run thru a Tabulator until the next Board meeting of the bipartisan, five-member Wake County Board of Elections. The Board starts meeting to process absentee ballots at the end of September and then meets at least once a week after that up to Election Day. That way they don't have to process the absentee ballots all at once. In some states they don't start tabulating absentee ballots until Election Day; that will likely be a BIG problem and cause significant delays in reporting election results for those states.
At the Board meetings for processing absentee ballots, the ballots are only tabulated, i.e., entered into Tabulators as you would do at a polling place. However the contest counts aren't made available before the night of Election Day. This is similar to the handling of ballots at early voting sites at which ballots are entered into Tabulators (by voters in that case) each day for a couple of weeks prior to Election Day, but the contest counts aren't available prior to poll closing on Election Day.
For security reasons, North Carolina has now changed the ability of people to view the status of absentee ballots on the Voter Search web page. They will no longer post that an absentee ballot has been requested. However they will post when the returned ballot has been accepted (see my experience noted above); by then it is too late for some political crook to "harvest" the ballot.
As of 9/11/20 the NCSBE has provided a BallotTrax portal. It lets voters track absentee ballot processing in more detail than Voter Search. See the Absentee Ballot Tools web page which describes and has links to all three portals: Absentee Ballot Request, BallotTrax, and Voter Search. Updated: 9/15/20
BallotTrax uses unique barcodes on envelopes to track absentee ballots thru the BOE and USPS systems to and from each voter. It allows the voter to be notified as various checkpoints are passed, e.g., (1) a requested absentee ballot package has been mailed by the BOE to the voter, (2) USPS has accepted the ballot return envelope mailed by the voter to the BOE, (3) the BOE has received the return envelope from USPS, and (4) the BOE has checked that envelope and accepted it for later tabulation of the enclosed ballot. If mistakes are found on the envelope preventing acceptance, e.g., a missing signature, the voter will be contacted. This notification scheme should give voters a much better understanding of their absentee ballot's current status as it makes its way thru the process. Updated: 9/15/20
Although my ballot envelope had already been accepted on 9/10/20 (as I had seen via Voter Search), when I later checked with BallotTrax just after it first went online on 9/11/20, BallotTrax reconfirmed that my ballot envelope was accepted, however with a date of 9/11/20 instead of 9/10/20. Also, it did not display any of the earlier checkpoint dates. I assume because I had started the absentee request process early (very early -- I had submitted my request on 7/12/20), long before BallotTrax became operational, those earlier checkpoint dates were not available to BallotTrax when it went into operation on 9/11/20 and it just used its 9/11/20 birthday since that's all it knew. Presumably anyone who started the absentee process on or after 9/11/20 would see all the checkpoints and they would each have an accurate date. Updated: 9/15/20
This NC State Board of Elections press release has more information on BallotTrax. Updated: 9/14/20
If you voted well before Election Day, either by submitting an absentee ballot or at an early voting site, DO NOT come to your polling place on Election Day to try to check whether your previously cast ballot was accepted. If your vote was accepted, your name will NOT be in the pollbooks. For such people the Registration Table Precinct Officials would have to waste a lot of time trying to find a name that is not in the pollbooks. Then the Help Table Officials and maybe the Chief Judge have to get involved. Meanwhile you will be holding up voters who have a legitimate reason to be at the polling place; i.e., they haven't already voted and they want to vote now
Don't wait until the last moment to mail your absentee ballot. You have lots of time before the election to do that and check that your ballot has been accepted (see below). There is no need to come to the polling place if you don't procrastinate.
You can easily see if your absentee ballot has been received and accepted without having to drive to your polling place and wait in line just to cause this undesirable lookup in the pollbooks. Instead just look at the "Your Absentee Ballot" section of your displayed data from the Voter Search web page; it will show when your ballot has been accepted. Note that even though you have submitted an absentee ballot request and maybe have already mailed back the ballot, this section will stay blank until your returned ballot has been accepted (see the security comment above for why they made this change). You can also get your ballot's status by using BallotTrax or by calling the Wake County BOE at 919-404-4040. Updated: 9/13/20
The Executive Director of the NC State Board of Elections has written a press release on these topics.
Many people are expected to vote in this election, raising the probability of long lines at polling places on Election Day. This election's ballot for our precinct is complex (35 contests), requiring more time for each voter to complete their ballot. Moreover, for this election there will be the need for social distancing because of COVID-19. That will require more space between people in lines and will also limit the number of voters allowed in the voting enclosure at any time. More voters than usual will have to line up outside. We're certainly hoping for good weather.
Voters and election officials may be somewhat encumbered by Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and face shields. All election officials will be wearing PPE of some sort. All voters are strongly encouraged to wear face masks. Free masks will be provided for voters inside the voting enclosure. However every voter should already be wearing a mask when they come to the polling place in case they have to line up with others outside. Each voter will be given their own ballot-marking pen, which they can keep as well as keeping any face mask they are given.
With the likelihood of long polling-place lines on Election Day, voters are strongly encouraged to vote before Election Day, either by an absentee ballot or at an early-voting (one-stop) site, as described above and in links on the Upcoming Election Information web page. The NC Legislature and the State and Wake County Boards of Elections have tried to make this easy. The early voting sites will be open many days before Election Day and for long hours each day. Don't wait until the last day or two to go to an early voting site; otherwise you will almost certainly have to stand in a VERY long and slow line. Similarly, don't wait too long to request and then submit an absentee ballot; otherwise your ballot may not get delivered in time to be counted. Be very careful when filling out first the ballot request form and later the ballot submission form, e.g., make sure you include all required signatures -- no signatures means no vote. The more the early voting can be spread out over the weeks before Election Day, the better.
Because of last year's Congressional redistricting, in this election we will be electing a Representative for the new US Congressional District 4 instead of the old District 2, as shown in your sample ballot. To see how the districts have changed, try the Find Your Legislators map tool.
All the above information applies not only to Precinct 19-19, but also to precincts nearby, e.g., 19-18. Some information specific to the 19-19 polling place is in the "Information Mainly for Precinct 19-19 Voters" web page, e.g., maps and diagrams, as well as Sanford Creek Elementary School traffic flows and parking considerations (standard lot, curbside area, alternate lots). Fortunately, because 11/3/20 will be a teacher workday, there will not be "carpool" lines to avoid for this election. Updated: 9/13/20
Despite its title, the "Information Mainly for Precinct 19-19 Voters" web page is probably of interest to other voters, not just those in Precinct 19-19. In addition to 19-19 specifics, it also covers a number of general election topics. In contrast to the "new and unique for 11/3/2020" things described above, the areas covered by the "19-19 Voters" page tend to stay the same from election to election. Updated: 9/13/20
History of Changes9/13/20: Noted the difference between my two web pages -- in box at page top and in "Specifics" section at page bottom.