Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — Blind and visually impaired voters in North Carolina may now request, receive, and return an accessible absentee ballot online. The system is compatible with screen readers.

“The portal makes it easy for voters who are visually impaired to privately and independently mark their ballots,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections.

The portal was added after a federal court last month required the State Board to offer online voting for visually impaired voters.

Visually impaired voters may request an accessible absentee ballot using the online absentee request form. If they requested a mailed absentee ballot but have not returned it, a voter can request a new accessible absentee ballot online.

Voters request the accessible absentee ballot through the Absentee Ballot Online Request Portal: https://votebymail.ncsbe.gov/app/home. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5 p.m. on October 27.

After the request is submitted, it may take several days for the county to process the request and for that data to be sent to the part of the portal that generates the actual ballot. The county board will send the voter an email to let the voter know when their ballot is available in the portal. The voter may then access their ballot online.

When voting absentee, one witness is required. The witness requirement for an accessible ballot is completed as part of the online ballot process.

Voters will vote and return their absentee ballot online. The deadline to complete and submit the accessible absentee ballot online is 5 p.m. on Election Day, November 3.

The State Board has created a special webpage for information about accessible absentee voting. It is here: https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting/help-voters-disabilities/accessible-absentee-voting.

If you are not currently registered to vote, you may not complete an accessible absentee ballot online. You may register and cast a ballot in person at the same time during the early voting period, which ends October 31. For early voting sites and hours, use the One-Stop Early Voting Site Search tool: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/OSSite.

For more on assistance at the polls, visit https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting/help-voters-disabilities.

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