Mail-in absentee ballot requests have surged across the country and in North Carolina. The State Board of Elections has upgraded the absentee ballot process for the Nov. 3 election.

All registered voters in North Carolina may request an absentee ballot. Registered voters may request a ballot through the online Absentee Ballot Request Portal, or fill out a North Carolina Absentee Ballot Request Form.

Both forms can be found at www.ncsbe.gov/voting/vote-mail.

The state promises a BallotTrax portal will soon allow voters to track their absentee ballot through the mail.

The absentee ballot request form can be mailed, emailed, faxed or returned in-person to county boards of elections.

Important tips about requesting a ballot:

No special circumstance or reason is needed to request, receive and vote an absentee ballot.

Although the request deadline is 5 p.m. Oct. 27, the State Board encourages voters who wish to vote by mail to request a ballot as soon as possible. This will help voters avoid any problems caused by U.S. Postal Service delays.

County boards of elections, including Jackson County, have begun sending out absentee ballots to those who request them.

Along with the new form, the previous State Absentee Ballot Request Form is still a valid form for the election.

North Carolina voters have three options for voting: mail-in absentee, in person during the early voting period, and in person on Election Day. Significant health safeguards will be in place for voters who cast their ballot in person.

The early voting period is Oct. 15-31. Eligible individuals may register and vote at the same time using same-day registration during the early voting period at any one-stop location in the county.

Election Day is Nov. 3. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., and voters should vote at their assigned precinct.