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Voter Aid and Accessibility

North Carolina law allows for any voter to recieve assistance in entering or exiting a voting booth as well as preparing a ballot, as long as the person providing assistance is a member of the voter's immediate family. N.C. law defines an immediate family member as one of the following: a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, a child, a grandchild, a mother- or father-in-law, a son- or daughter-in-law, a stepparent, or a stepchild.

The law further stipulates that some voters can recieve aid from a wider range of helpers. If a voter satifies any of the conditions below, they are eligible to recieve help from any person of their choice, with the exception of the voter's employer or union representative, or an agent thereof. Those are:

  • a voter who, on account of physical disability, is unable to enter the voting booth without assistance 
  • a voter who, on account of physical disability, is unable to mark a ballot without assistance
  • a voter who, on account of illiteracy, is unable to mark a ballot without assistance 
  • a voter who, on account of blindness, is unable to enter the voting booth or mark a ballot without assistance

Any voter who qualifies for and requests assistance while voting at a One-Stop (early) voting site is entitled to the same assistance as voters who vote on Election Day.

 


 

There is no prohibition against a candidate assisting a voter if the voter is qualified for assistance.

 


 

There is no prohibition against a person assisting multiple voters if those voters are qualified for assistance.

 

Accessible Polling Places

Polling sites are required to be accessible to all voters. Voters with disabilities or older voters may require removal of barriers at polling places or registration sites in order to make the voting program accessible to them. Many of the current accessiblity stipulations were codified in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. You can read more about how North Carolina polling places comply with HAVA law here.

In our continuing effort to make and keep all polling places in the state accessible to all voters, the State Board of Elections has surveyed each polling place in order to determine the accessibility needs of every location. The Board then made grants to the local county boards of election to improve those sights where accessiblity was not up to legal standards. Further, each location has been photographed in order to better inform voters of accessible pathways, parking, and entrances. Those photographs can be seen via our polling place search.

If you are aware of any problems or potential problems with regards to accessibility, please contact the county board of elections office within the respective county.

 


 

In addition to making polling places accessible to voters, the State Board of Elections strives to provide voters with options, should they be unable to make it inside the polling place to vote.

Curbside voting is an option offered at each polling location where a voter can vote while in a vehicle outside the polling location. This includes all one-stop (early voting) sites. A curbside voter has the same rights to assistance as any other voter. Information on the particulars of curbside voting at a specific polling place or early voting site can be obtained from the site's respective county board of elections.

Voting a mail-in absentee ballot from home is another option that can be utilized. For more information on how to request, fill out, or submit an absentee ballot, visit our absentee voting page.

 

Accessible Voting Equipment

Both federal law and state requirements mandate that voting systems be equipped for voters with disabilities, which allows such voters to have the same opportunity for access and participation as any other voter. It is required that every precinct have at least one accessible voting machine available for use by voters with special needs. This includes all one-stop absentee (early voting) sites.

Some counties utilize Direct Record Electronic (DRE) touchscreen voting machines, which offer audio instructrions for the voting process as well as ballot narration. These touchscreen machines will also produce an oral report to the voter of the choices selected prior to the voter casting the ballot, so that the voter can ensure his/her choices are being recorded accurately.

Counties that utilize paper ballots will have AutoMARK marking devices on hand that will aid the voter in marking his/her ballot. The AutoMark has a feature that will greatly magnify the ballot for voters that have limited visual impairment. It is also capable of offering audio instructions and ballot narration, just like the DRE machines. It also produces an oral report to the voter as the choices selected prior to the voter finishing marking the ballot. At the end of the process, the machine will spit out the voter's paper ballot that can then be cast.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections is committed to making voting as accessible as possible for all citizens of North Carolina, regarless of circumstance.. Please let us know how we can improve such accessibility by calling us at (866) 522-4723 (toll free) or (919) 733-7173. You may also e-mail us at elections.sboe@ncsbe.gov.