North Carolina Elections

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Upcoming Elections

2016 Presidential Preference Primary: Tuesday, March 15

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

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

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.

Voting Rights


She’s 86. She can’t get a photo ID. Look at the voter fraud we’ve prevented
02/11/16 |
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 17:30

Reba Bowser is...86 years old. She’s a staunch Republican. She’s been a faithful voter since the Eisenhower administration, missing only the most recent election after moving from New Hampshire to western North Carolina to be close to her son’s family. ...

On Monday, [Reba and her son, Ed,] went to the Department of Motor Vehicles in [North Carolina]. There, they laid out all of Reba’s paperwork for a DMV official – her birth record from Pennsylvania, her Social Security card, the New Hampshire driver’s license she let expire because she no longer wanted to drive.

But there was a problem. When Reba got married in 1950, she had her name legally changed. Like millions upon millions of women, she swapped out her middle name for her maiden name.

That name – Reba Miller Bowser – didn’t match the name on her birth record. A DMV computer flagged the discrepancy. Her photo ID application was rejected. ...

There’s good reason for Reba’s confusion. Her name had never been an issue before this week. Not when she applied for driver’s licenses in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Not when she’s flown on airplanes and traveled to other countries. ...

But now, Ed says: “I’m thinking how this affected an 86-year-old woman with limited transportation and resources. You think about extending that to poor communities and minority communities.”

Republicans champion voter ID laws absent credible evidence of fraud
02/10/16 |
Publication Date: 
Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 05:00

“When voter fraud occurs it should be taken very seriously … and we should have the mechanisms to make sure that it doesn’t happen,” said [Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Voting Rights and Elections Project at the Brennan Center for Justice]. “But cases where people are in a position to exploit the system are much more common than some random person pretending to be someone else.” An analysis of election fraud by the journalism studies program News21 found that more than half of all fraud convictions between 2000 and 2012 involved either election officials, campaign workers or voting registration organizations. Just 1 in 207 fraud accusations involved voter impersonation, the only type of fraud that voter ID laws prevent. “If [voter ID advocates] were really concerned about fraud there’s a bunch of other things they could do,” Perez added “Our voting machines are vulnerable. We’re asking people to vote on machines that are the equivalent of old-school flip phones. Our registration rolls are a mess.” ...

For many of...eligible voters, getting a valid ID is not a simple process. “For one, those without a driver’s license don’t have a car,” said Kathleen Unger, president of VoteRiders, a non-profit group that helps voters obtain valid IDs. “So they’re not able to just drive down to the DMV to get a license.” And while states do offer the option of a free voter ID card Unger says, “In many cases there can be a cost associated with getting a ‘free ID’. Obtaining a copy of a birth certificate or a change of name document not only costs money but requires a trip to another agency. With these laws there are so many people who just won’t vote.”

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Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

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Helpful Election Information

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 Presidential Preference Primary: Tuesday, March 15

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

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

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.

Election Day: 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Early voting hours are determined by the normal business hours of each polling location.  To check the days and operating hours of your early voting location, check the NC One Stop Voting Site List.

How to Find Your Polling Place

Visit the North Carolina Board of Elections Polling Place Locator web page.

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).


Registration Deadlines

2015 Primary  Election: Any dates for the primary will vary based on the municipality’s primary election date. Check with your local elections website for more information.

2015 Municipal General Election: October 9, 2015 

You must register to vote 25 days before an election.

Register to Vote

How to Check Your Registration Status

To verify your registration status, check the North Carolina State Board of Elections website.

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

Eligibility Requirements to Register 

To register to vote in the 2015 Elections:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen;
  • You must be a resident of the North Carolina for at least 30 days prior to election day;
  • You must be at least 18 years old or will be 18 by Election Day. (For individuals who will not be 18 by this date, see pre-registration below); and
  • If you have been previously convicted of a felony, your citizenship rights must be restored (no longer serving sentence, including probation or parole).

You must rescind previous registrations in any other counties and/or states.

First Time Voters Who Register By Mail

If you are unable to provide a valid ID number, either a NC driver’s license number or a non-operators ID card number on your registration application, you must attach a copy of one of the following to your voter registration application OR bring it when you vote for the first time:

  • Your current valid photo ID;
  • A current utility bill;
  • A bank statement;
  • A paycheck or government check; or
  • Another government document that shows your name and address.

Where to Register

If you would like to register to vote in person, visit your county board of elections office.  You can look up the address of your county board of elections office here.

You can also register to vote at a location of the following agencies:

  • Department of Motor Vehicles; 
  • Departments of Social Services;
  • Departments of Public Health;
  • Vocational Rehabilitation offices;
  • Departments of Services for the Blind;
  • Departments of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing;
  • Departments of Mental Health Services; and
  • Employment Security Commission.

In addition, you can pick up a voter registration application at public libraries, high schools, and college admissions offices.

If You Want to Vote Early

North Carolina has "one-stop voting."  One-stop voting allows registered voters to vote early.

The one-stop voting period for November Municipal is not available yet. 

North Carolina voters are able to vote by one-stop at all county board of elections offices during regular office hours.  Some county boards of elections offer additional one-stop sites within the county.  To determine when your polling place will open for early voting, please visit the North Carolina One Stop Voting List.

If You Want to Vote Absentee

Any registered North Carolina voter can vote absentee by mail.

The county boards of elections will not mail or issue applications or ballots to the voter earlier than 60 days before a general election, 50 days before a statewide primary election, or 30 days before a municipal election.  Voters may, however, request an application more than 50 days before the election.  Absentee ballots are not available for in-person pick-up, so you must either request a ballot by mail, email or fax; deliver the Absentee Ballot Request form in person to the county board of elections office; or take advantage of one-stop voting in person (see above).

Requesting an Absentee Ballot

You can request an absentee ballot by sending or delivering a completed Absentee Ballot Request form to your county board of elections.  The form is available here.

A near relative or legal guardian can request the absentee ballot on your behalf if that person includes their own name, address, phone number, and relationship to you in the request.  “Near relative” includes a spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild.

A ballot request must be received by 5:00 p.m the last Tuesday before Election Day.  It can be delivered in person, mailed, faxed, or scanned and emailed to your County Board of Elections.

For November Municipal, Abstentee Voting begins on October 2, 2015.

Returning a Completed Absentee Ballot 

If you decide to return your ballot in person, you must bring it to your County Board of Elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on  Election Day. If you mail your completed ballot, it must be postmarked by Election Day and received by the County Board of Elections no later than three days after the Election.

NOTE: In 2013, the Governor signed HB 589, which created new identification requirements for voting in North Carolina.  Those requirements do NOT take effect until 2016, and are NOT in effect for 2015 elections.

Most voters in North Carolina are not required to show identification.  However, if you are a first-time voter and you did not provide your North Carolina driver license or the last four digits of your social security number when you completed your voter registration application, or one or both of those numbers could not be validated, then you will need to provide ID the first time that you vote.  If you are required to show ID, you must provide one the following:

  • A current and valid photo identification; or
  • A copy of one of the following documents that shows your name and address: a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document.

North Carolina does not allow you to make changes to your voter registration online.  The North Carolina Voter Registration Application may be used to make any changes to your registration, including name, address, and party affiliation.  You may also send a written notice to your County Board of Elections instead of the Registration Application.  Such written notices must be signed in order to be valid.

Moving within the Same County

If you move within North Carolina, but within the same county, you should complete an in-county change of address.  This can be completed on your voter identification card, a signed letter to your local board of elections, or on the North Carolina Voter Registration Application.

Moving to a Different County

If you have moved to a different county in North Carolina, you must apply for voter registration in your new county of residence.  You may use the Voter Registration Application to do so.  If you move within the State, North Carolina law requires that you update the address on your driver's license within 60 days.  When you obtain your new driver’s license, you may update your voter registration information at the same time.  

Moving More than 30 Days Before an Election

If you have moved more than 30 days prior to the election, you will need to update your registration with your new address (or if applicable, register to vote in your new county of residence) no later than 25 days prior to the election.  You will then be registered and may possibly have a new polling location. On election day, if you failed to update your voter registration, you may still vote at your new polling location, as long as you have not moved out of the county of your existing registration.   Since your move was unreported, you may be asked to vote a provisional ballot.

Moving Fewer Than 30 Days Before an Election

If you have moved fewer than 30 days prior to the election, you are still qualified to vote in your prior polling place and may vote only there, even if you moved outside of your county.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), also known as Standard Form 76, to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) North Carolina-specific FPCA page.

Military and overseas citizens can send and receive voting materials by fax and email.  If you wish to use the fax or email options, you must indicate this on your FPCA.  Instructions for doing so are found on the FVAP's North Carolina-specific FPCA page.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) if they are concerned with receiving their printed ballot and returning it  by Election day  if emailed or faxed.  The FWAB is a blank ballot on which voters write in their choices.  The FWAB may also be used to register to vote and to apply for the absentee ballot, all in one step.  If the FWAB is being used to register to vote, it must be received by 5pm on the day before the election.  For specific instructions, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's North Carolina-specific FWAB page.

Voting rights restored upon completion of sentence, including prison, parole and probation.  However, a voter must re-register in order to be put back on the voting rolls.

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


Top Issues to Field **not yet updated since 2014**

For more information for voters with disabilities, visit the National Disability Rights Network’s voting resource center.

For more information for student voters, visit the North Carolina Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights