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Voting & Elections Toolkits

Voter Registration in North Carolina

Eligibility

  • Age: Must be at least 18 years old.
    • A prospective voter can submit a registration form up to two years before his/her 18th birthday, if and only if he/she will be 18 at the time of the next general election.
    • 17 year-olds may vote in a primary election if they will be 18 at the time of the general election.
  • Formerly incarcerated individuals:  Must not be serving a sentence for a felony conviction (including probation or parole). If a prospective voter has previously been convicted of a felony, his/her citizenship rights must be restored. For more information on voting rights for those in the North Carolina criminal justice system, click here.
  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Residence: Must live in the county of his/her registration, and have resided there for at least 30 days prior to the date of the election.
  • College students can either vote absentee in their home state/county or register to vote in North Carolina - IF :
    • So long as a student intends to make the student's home in the community where the student is physically present for the purpose of attending school while the student is attending school and has no intent to return to the student's former home after graduation, the student may claim the college community as the student's domicile. The student need not also intend to stay in the college community beyond graduation in order to establish domicile there.
  • Check to see if you are already registered using the Voter Search tool.

For more information, please visit the North Carolina State Board of Elections,

    and at the Registering to Vote page as well.

Deadline

  • Voter registration deadlines are 25 days before the date of an election.
    • The voter registration application must be received by the applicant’s county boards of elections by this date.
      • If an application is received after the deadline, the application may still be timely if it was mailed and it is postmarked on or before the voter registration deadline; otherwise, the application will not be processed until after the election.
    • Persons who register at the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles or another voter registration agency will be considered registered as of the date the application is given to the agency. As long as this date is on or before the voter registration deadline, then the application will be deemed timely for an upcoming election.
  • Also available - Persons who are not registered in a county may register to vote during the one-stop early voting period. This process is called “Same-Day Registration.”

Online registration

Online registration form (in English).

Mail-in registration

Printable form

Forms also available at:

  • NC State Board of Elections
  • County Boards of Elections
  • Public libraries
  • Public high schools or college admissions offices
  • Further, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) requires certain agencies in this state to offer voter registration services when at these locations for agency services. These agencies include are:

    • North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (NC DMV)
    • Public Assistance Agencies
      • Departments of Social Services (DSS)
      • Departments of Public Health (WIC)
    • Disability Services Agencies
      • Vocational Rehabilitation offices
      • Departments of Services for the Blind
      • Departments of Services for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing
      • Departments of Mental Health Services
      • Employment Security Commission (ESC)

In-person registration is also available; above locations. Online form has address and phone numbers for county Board of Election offices.

Refer to the box below for information about ID requirements.

 

Choosing a political party   

You may choose a political party affiliation (5 are recognized for North Carolina) when you register, but it is not required.                 

Updating registration      

To update registration after a move, name change, or change of political party affiliation, use the voter registration application form

Cancelling registration

 To remove yourself a voter roll, use this online form.

        Send it to the county Board of Elections for the county in which you reside (or, resided). Use the interactive map to find your county.

 

ID Requirements for North Carolina Voters

ID Requirements for Registration

Online Registration

Below is from the online registration form:

 

Mail-in Registration

Same requirements as the for the online registration form above.

In-person Registration

  • North Carolina driver’s license;
  • Other photo identification issued by a government agency;
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document showing the voter’s name and address; OR
  • A current college/university photo identification card paired with a current roster prepaired by the college/university and transmitted to the county board of elections office, which lists all students residing in campus housing facilities.

Any government-issued photo identification card is acceptable, so long as the card bears the registrant’s current name and current address. Such cards may be expired, but the name and address must be current.

Casting a Ballot in North Carolina

Important Dates

  • Primary Election:    March 3, 2020  [note: photo ID is NOT required, per Dec. 31, 2019, federal district court order]
  • Second Primary (non-Federal):  April 14, 2020

  • Second Primary (Federal):  May 5, 2020

  • Voter registration - 25 days before an election

  • Absentee Ballot request - October 27, 2020 - 5:00pm

  • Return completed absentee ballot - November 3, 2020 - postmark by 5:00pm

  • Early voting: October 15, 2020 -  October 31, 2020

  • General Election:   November 3, 2020

Absentee voting

Opening/closing dates

  • Absentee ballot for the November 3  general election can be requested until October 27, 2020, at 5:00pm.
  • Completed absentee ballots for the November 3 general election must be postmarked by 5:00pm on election day.

Military voters and voters who reside outside the U.S.

    General information for Special Voting Options for Military & Overseas Voters can be found on the state board elections page.

The two special ways to register and vote for military and overseas voters are the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA) and the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB). The advantage of the FPCA is that the voter receives a full local ballot that includes all ballot choices, including local contest and ballot items. Meanwhile, the FWAB is a simpler option if the voter's primary objective is to vote in prominent federal contests, such as the race for U.S. President. However, a voter may vote for all contests (federal, state and local) for which he or she is eligible, but the voter must obtain information for local contests and ballot items in order to write in a choice for those items.

A military-overseas voter need only apply for an absentee ballot by one method; either the FPAC or the FWAB, but not both. Generally speaking, the FWAB serves as a backup to the FPCA. For most voters the FPCA is the best option

  • FPCA: Absentee ballots are available 30 days prior to municipal elections for those municipalities that permit absentee voting, 50 days prior to statewide primaries, and 60 days prior to general elections. For any other type of election, ballots will be available 50 days prior to the election. After submitting a FPCA, military-overseas voters will receive a ballot for any election for which they are eligible during the year that the request is received.
  • FWAB: The voter can vote for any ballot items that would be on the regular ballot, however, the voter must obtain the choices for those ballot items. The voter can either obtain this information by contacting his or her local county board of elections, or by looking up his or her sample ballot on the State Board of Election main page. The FWAB is an official military-overseas ballot, so if you submit a FWAB, your county board of elections will not send you a regular ballot.
  • Deadline to return ballot: The military-overseas voter may return his or her voted ballot, including a FWAB, via mail, fax or email. The deadline to return military-overseas ballots is by the close of polls on Election Day (7:30 p.m. EST). If the ballot is received later than that hour, it will not be timely, unless the voter transmitted the ballot by 12:01 a.m. on the day of the election (voter time) and the county board receives the ballot by the last business day before the county canvass. The county canvass is normally conducted 10 days after the General Election and 7 days after other elections. When returning the ballot by mail, no postmark is required.

Who is eligible to use an absentee ballot?

No special circumstance or reason is needed to receive and vote a mail-in absentee ballot. [From the state Board of Elections.

 

Application for Absentee Ballot (English).

Vote by Mail portal

                  

Polling places and hours

  • Use the Polling Place Locator to find your polling place.
  • Polling Place Search (official, from North Carolina State Board of Elections)
  • For the general election, polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Time off to vote: North Carolina does not require employers to give employees time off to vote.

Rides to the polls

Many organizations offer free rides to polling places.  Check your local newspaper or broadcast news station for these organizations.

 

Help for voters with disabilities

  • North Carolina law allows any voter to receive assistance going in or out of a voting booth, as well as preparing a ballot, if the person providing help is a near relative or legal guardian of the voter.
  • Some voters may receive help from other assistants. If a voter meets any condition below, he or she is eligible to get help from a person of their choice, except the voter's employer or union representative, or an agent thereof.

    They are:

    • a voter who, because of physical disability, is unable to enter the voting booth without help.
    • a voter who, because of physical disability, is unable to mark a ballot without help
    • a voter who, because of illiteracy, is unable to mark a ballot without help
    • a voter who, because of blindness, is unable to enter the voting booth or mark a ballot without help
  • Any voter who qualifies for assistance may ask for help at any one-stop early voting site or Election Day polling place.

  • For early voting, curbside voting is an option for voters unable to enter the polling place due to age or physical or mental disability, or have a medical condition that puts them at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 , or should not wear a mask due to a medical or behavioral condition or disability, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

 

Ballots

Where to get more info on candidates: League of Women Voters ; local newspapers (daily and weekly)

Sample ballots

Elections

Primaries vs. general elections

  • Primary elections are conducted to select each party’s candidates in the general election.
  • In North Carolina, an Unaffiliated voter can may choose the Democrat, Libertarian, Republican or nonpartisan ballot (if available).
  • Some primary elections are non-partisan.
  • In a general election, voters are not required to have a party affiliation.

Jurisdiction

Offices/Measures That May Appear on the Ballot

Federal (even years)

President/Vice-President (elected every four years; next election in 2020)

Senator (elected every six years for staggered terms; next election in 2020)

Representative (elected every two years)

State (even years)

Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Auditor, Attorney General, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Labor, Commissioner of Insurance (elected every four years; next election in 2020 )

State Senator (elected every two years)

State Representative (elected every two years)

Statewide ballot measures

Municipal (most are elected in odd years)

Some local elections in 2020 will be for:

County commissions

Mayor

Superior Court ; District Court

Register of Deeds

Local ballot measures

For more information, see Types of Elections

Who are the candidates, and what else is on the ballot?

Important Dates

Primary Election:  March 3, 2020

Second Primary (non-Federal):  April 14, 2020

Second Primary (Federal):  May 5, 2020

Voter Registration deadline - 25 days before the election

Early Voting is from October 15, 2020 to October 31, 2020

Deadline to request absentee ballot: October 27, 2020, 5:00pm

Deadline to return completed absentee ballot: postmarked by 5:00pm, November 3, 2020

Election Day is November 3, 2020

 

Who conducts elections?

  • The State Board of Elections (State Board) is the state agency charged with the administration of the elections process and campaign finance disclosure and compliance.
  •  The State's 100 County Boards of Elections conduct local elections, operate voting sites, maintain voter registration lists and handle numerous aspects of election administration. The office of the State Board works in conjunction with County Boards of Elections offices to ensure that elections are conducted lawfully and fairly.

Voter Bill of Rights

none official

 

Where to go with complaints about candidates or how elections are conducted

Contact the State Board of Elections, or the State for an ethics or lobbying complaint, s

Campaign finance

 Campaign Finance Resources provides access to candidates' campaign funding and election reports and Political Action Committee campaign finance filings.

How to contact your elected officials:

Find your elected state officials at the North Carolina government website.

Members of Congress from North Carolina can be found from the Congress.gov website.

General Resources on Voting and Elections

General Resources on Voting and Elections


Hotlines


1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)

1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)

1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)


Voter Registration & Election Day Resources

Find useful voter information including:

  • Local Election Office and Contact Information
  • Address, Telephone and Email for Local Election Offices
  • Upcoming Federal Election Dates and Deadlines
  • Upcoming State Election Dates and Deadlines
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Identification Requirements
  • Voter Materials Transmission Options
  • State Lookup Tools – Am I Registered? Where’s my Ballot?

Population-Specific information and Resources

Voting Rights: Laws, Cases, Policy

Voter Engagement

Voter Education

Campaign Finance/Funding Information

Primary Sources, Lesson Plans & Exhibits

Disclaimer

Librarians from the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT), a Round Table of the American Library Association (ALA), created these reference guides. These guides are intended for informational purposes only and are not in any way intended to be legal advice.

These guides are designated with a Creative Commons license and re-use and modification for educational purposes is encouraged.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.