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Recent rulings that Texas' voting laws discriminate put pressure on the state, but the road ahead is long
04/24/17 |
Publication Date: 
Monday, April 24, 2017 - 01:00

Lawmakers are trying to pass a bill to address the discriminatory issues found with the voter ID law. But Democrats say it falls short of meeting the standards that a district court set last year.

Plaintiffs want District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi to consider throwing out the law after the legislative session and returning the state to the federal government's "pre-clearance" list.

But even if that happened, the Texas attorney general's office would almost certainly challenge the decision in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. ...

The parties in the [redistricting] case are set to meet in San Antonio on Thursday. The three-judge panel will hear updates on whether a trial is needed and what a timeline for the rest of the case might look like.

But the panel has moved slowly and methodically throughout the case for over six years. It is unlikely to grant the plaintiffs' requests — for new congressional maps for the 2018 elections and federal oversight — before tackling other remaining issues, such as whether the 2013 interim maps were also discriminatory.

And even if the court sided with the plaintiffs in a trial and struck down the maps, Texas could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court — dragging out the case even longer.

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North Carolina Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

Voter Registration Deadline: October 14, 2016

BREAKING - Voter registration deadline extended in 36 counties impacted by Hurricane Matthew. Deadline is now October 19 in the following counties:

  • Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Camden, Carteret, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Currituck, Dare, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Nash, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Tyrrell, Washington, Wayne and Wilson

Election Day:

All Polling Places are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (ET). Anyone in line at the poll place by 7:30 will be permitted to vote.

Early voting for the 2016 North Carolina general election begins October 20, 2016 and closes on November 5, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. (ET). The dates and hours within that time period are county-specific. For early voting locations and times, contact your County Board of Election office. To find you County Board of Elections office visit


Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.

Registration Deadlines:

All applications to register to vote must be postmarked to the County Board of Elections by October 14, 2016 (see note at the top of this page regarding counties with extended voter registration deadlines), which is 25 days before the date of the election. If the application is submitted via email or fax, a permanent copy of the form must be delivered to the County Board of Elections no later than 20 days before the election. Voters can find the address of their County Board of Elections here: Because of potential, weather-related delays in mail pickup and delivery, the State Board is directing county boards of elections to accept and process registration forms delivered by mail or commercial carrier and received on or before 5 p.m. Wednesday, October 19, provided that the forms are dated by the voter on or before Oct. 14. Voters may also register to vote in person during the entire early voting period, October 20 through November 5 at one-stop early voting sites.

Voters 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.

How to Check Your Registration:

Registration Eligibility:

To register to vote and vote in a North Carolina county, a person must meet the following qualifications:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Must be a resident of the county, and prior to voting in an election, must have resided at his or her residential address for at least 30 days prior to the date of the election.
  • Must be at least 18 years old or will be 18 by the date of the next general election. (If 17 years old, persons may register no earlier than 60 days prior to the date of the primary election for the general election.)
  • Must not be serving a sentence for a felony conviction (including probation or on parole). If previously convicted of a felony, the person’s citizenship rights must be restored. Citizenship and voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of the sentence. No special document is needed.
  • Must rescind any previous registration in another county or state.

How to Register:

By Mail

Voters may download a voter registration application online. Once complete, the voters can mail the application to the county board of elections in the county where the applicant resides.

In addition to the printable voter registration application accessible on this website, voter registration applications are available at the following locations:

  • NC State Board of Elections
  • County Boards of Elections
  • Public libraries
  • Public high schools or college admissions offices.

In Person

Voter registration services are available at:

  • 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)

Voter registration applicants, who have met the voter registration deadline, should expect to receive their voter card within 1 to 2 weeks. Applicants should contact their county board of elections if they do not receive their voter card within two weeks. Note: The applicant must have transmitted the registration application by the registration deadline; otherwise, the voter card will not be mailed until after the completion of the election.

Identification Required for Registration: No identification is required for registration.

If You Want to Vote Early (also called one-stop absentee voting or in-person absentee voting)

Early voting for the 2016 North Carolina general election begins October 20, 2016 and closes on November 5, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. (ET). The location of early voting is either your County Board of Elections office or an alternative site. To find your early voting site, visit

If You Want to Vote Absentee

A voter or a near relative or legal guardian may request that an absentee ballot be sent by mail.  Any registered North Carolina voter can request a mail-in absentee ballot.  No special circumstances are necessary.  Voters (or their near relative or legal guardian) can obtain an absentee ballot application on the State Board of Elections website (, the State Board of Elections office, or at county boards of election offices. 

The absentee ballot request must be received by the voter’s county board of elections by November 1 at 5:00 pm (Tuesday before Election Day).  A completed absentee ballot request can be mailed, e-mailed, faxed, or delivered to the county board of elections in person.

The deadline to return an absentee ballot in-person is 5:00 pm on Election Day.  Mailed absentee ballots will be timely if the county board of elections receives the ballot by 5:00 pm on the third day after the election and it is postmarked on or before Election Day. To ensure that a ballot will be counted, have the local post office apply a postmark date on the return envelope. An absentee ballot request form may be requested and submitted, or an absentee ballot may be returned, to election officials at an early voting location during the early voting period, within the time limitations listed above.

Military and Overseas Citizens

Absent uniformed service members (and their eligible dependents) and U.S. citizens living outside of the United States may request an absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).  The voter can get step-by-step assistance and forms at

North Carolina does not currently have a voter ID requirement, except for first-time voters who register to vote my mail and did not provide verification of their ID at the time of registration. These first-time voters may show current and valid photo ID (driver’s license or state ID, US Passport, employee ID, student ID, military ID), utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or any government document.

VoteRiders has created North Carolina voter ID info cards in English and in Spanish.

If it has been Less Than 30 Days Since You Have Moved:

Within the Same Precinct:

You should be able to vote a regular ballot upon oral or written affirmation of the change of address before a precinct official.

Within the Same County:

You are still qualified to vote at your prior polling place and may vote only there.

To a Different County:

You are still qualified to vote at your prior polling place in your old county and may vote only there.

If it has been More Than 30 Days Since You Have Moved:

Within the Same Precinct:

You should be able to vote a regular ballot upon oral or written affirmation of the change of address before a precinct official.

Within the Same County:

If you are at the polling place for your new address, you should be able to vote a regular ballot at the new location or a central polling location upon oral or written affirmation of the change of address before a precinct official. If you are at the polling place for your old address you may vote a provisional ballot at that location, or a regular ballot at your new polling place or a central location.

To a Different County:

If you move to a different county more than 30 days prior to an election you must re-register at your new address in order to be eligible to vote. Or, go to any early voting location in the county of the new address and use same-day-registration to register and vote. If you did not reregister and it is within 30 days of the election and cast a ballot on Election Day, your vote will not count.

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot. Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) North Carolina specific webpage.

UOCAVA voters may also download a voter registration online and mail it to the county board of elections in the county where the applicant resides.

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

UOCAVA voters may receive their blank absentee ballots by U.S. Mail, fax, or electronic transmission. To request election transmission of the blank ballot, UOCAVA voters must mark the appropriate box and provide an email address on the FPCA (see North Carolina-specific FPCA page). Ballots must be returned via U.S. Mail, online, or by fax.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

The Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot (FWAB) is a back-up ballot that can be used by UOCAVA voters. You can use this FWAB whether you are located inside or outside the United States (including APO and FPO addresses). If you do not receive your regular ballot in time, you may use the FWAB. Your FWAB must be received by your local voting officials in North Carolina no later than 12:00 a.m., November 8, 2016 or by 7:30 p.m. if returned by email or fax. For specific instructions, visit the FVAP’s North Carolina-specific FWAB page.

A citizen temporarily loses the right to vote in North Carolina if he/she has been convicted of a felony and is currently incarcerated, on probation, or on parole.  Once the sentence, including probation and parole, is complete, the right to vote automatically returns to the voter (no additional document is needed), and the voter may re-register and vote a regular ballot. A requirement to pay restitution or a civil fine does not affect a person’s right to vote.


Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

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

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

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 voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

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Election Information for your state