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A Multipartisan Assistance Team, or "MAT", is a group appointed by the New Hanover County Board of Elections to provide assistance with absentee-by-mail voting to voters living at assisted-living facilities.
MAT visits help facilities ensure compliance with N C. General Statute §163-226.3(a)(4). According to this statute, the following individuals are legally prohibited from providing absentee assistance to voters who are NOT disabled: owners, managers, directors, and employees of hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or rest homes ("facilities"). Violation of this law is a Class I felony [N.C.G.S. § 163-226.3].
In July 2022, a federal court issued an order that struck down state laws barring certain individuals from helping disabled voters request, complete, and submit absentee ballots.
As a result of that order, a disabled absentee voter may receive assistance from any person they choose. They may still request and use a MAT team, but they are not required to do so. They may receive assistance from the staff of the hospital, clinic, nursing home, or rest home where they are a patient or resident. They may also receive assistance from an elected official, political party officeholder, or candidate.
In recognition of the fact that some facility residents and patients may not have access to a near relative or legal guardian to provide them with assistance, MATs ensure that facility residents are provided lawful assistance in voting. The makeup of MAT teams includes, at minimum, two voters whose voter registration is affiliated with two different political parties (or, in the alternative, those who were unanimously appointed by a bipartisan County Board of Elections) who are trained to provide absentee voting assistance.
MATs offer two major services:
If you are a voter living in a facility and would like to schedule a MAT visit, contact the activity coordinator of your facility. If you do not know who the activity coordinator is, or if there is no activity coordinator, talk to staff or management at your facility. These representatives can use the online form to schedule a MAT visit for any residents who are in need of these resources.
If you are a facility representative, such as an activity coordinator, who would like to schedule a MAT visit for your facility, please use the online form. Once the request has been submitted, a New Hanover County Board of Elections representative will be in touch with process information and scheduling.