This week, the NC Board of Elections made changes meant to help the absentee voting process run more smoothly.

Mail-in absentee ballot requests have surged in North Carolina, and the state’s Board of Elections this week unveiled an improved North Carolina absentee ballot request form to be used for the Tuesday, Nov. 3 election.

The updates to the request form include, according to state election officials, “a cleaner design and improved accessibility and use for all voters.”

Karen Brinson Bell, the executive director of the state Board of Elections, noted in a press release that the new layout should benefit voters across North Carolina who wish to cast their ballot by mail.

“This new form is more user-friendly and one of many steps we have taken to make voting simpler for North Carolinians in the era of COVID-19,” she said. “Whether by mail or in-person, we want folks to vote in the manner they’re most comfortable with this fall.”

The request for an absentee ballot can be mailed, emailed, faxed – or returned in-person to the voters’ county board of elections office.

The state Board of Elections will also launch an online absentee ballot request portal by September 1. Through that portal, voters will be able to request a ballot completely online, with no need to print out or mail a request.

The state board also used the opportunity to point out to the public that “No special circumstance or reason is needed to request, receive, and vote an absentee ballot. Any North Carolina registered voter may request and receive a mail-in absentee ballot for the 2020 general election.”

The deadline to make the request is 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27, but the board is encouraging voters who wish to vote by mail to request ballots as soon as possible.