COMMENTARY: Voting by absentee ballot 

by Jun 24, 2020OPINIONS


Nov. 3 is Election Day in the United States and North Carolina. Decisions made at all levels of government (President and Congress in Washington, DC, General Assembly in Raleigh and local counties) affect the lives of Cherokee people, especially your children and grandchildren. Congress determines the amount of funding for Indian Health Service, education and many other programs that the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians depends upon to provide services. Voting makes sure your voice and opinions are heard.

I hope every eligible North Carolina resident plans to vote in the November election; the opportunity to vote is both a privilege and a responsibility for all of us.  As new residents of Swain County and a military family, we have moved 14 times, but now western North Carolina is our home. I am an unaffiliated registered voter.

Downloading the request form from the N.C. State Board of Elections web site (NCSBOE) is easy. Go to:

When I was active duty, absentee ballot was how I voted.  I never wondered if my ballot was counted; I trusted the system.  In North Carolina, you don’t need a reason.  Five states – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington have all-mail voting.  In these five states, every voter receives a ballot by mail. Voting by mail is necessary to safely allow increasing voter turnout during the time of this pandemic.

Recently, North Carolina’s legislature passed an election reform law.  It expanded absentee voting and made in-person voting safer amid rising concern over the ability to hold smooth elections during the coronavirus pandemic. The law requires an online absentee request option for North Carolina voters, who formerly could only request such ballots by mail or in person. The law also reduced the number of witnesses who must sign a voter’s absentee ballot from two to one. Just because you request an absentee ballot doesn’t mean that you can’t still vote in person if you choose.

A significant number of people will be requesting absentee ballots this year.  It is a sound decision knowing the lines may be long and social distancing during these times is so important; the convenience is obvious. Don’t wait until the last minute to request your ballot – do it now!  If you don’t have computer access, you can request the application for an absentee ballot at your County Board of Elections.  Voters need one of the following types of identification:  North Carolina driver’s license, North Carolina special identification card for non-operators or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

Every position on the ballot is important – at this time our world is particularly stressed and sound leadership at every level of government is important.  Everyone has a role to play in good governance and protecting each other as best we can. Our local governments are stressed and budgets require creative utilization of dwindling resources.  That is another reason to pay attention to the local elections.  Local elections are vitally important.

I have mailed my request form to Swain County BOE giving plenty of time for it to be processed for the November election.  It’s not too early to request it. The request must be received by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, one week before the election.  Let’s keep each other and the people who work the polls safe and get it done!


Mary K. Buranosky CDR USNR-Ret