Election Laws & Policies

The duties of the State Board of Elections are to guide and enforce Federal and State laws governing all elections conducted within the state. In addition to ensuring these laws are enforced, the State Board of Elections is responsible for implementing policies and procedures to ensure these laws are adhered to in a collective and effective manner. More information on the various laws, policies, and procedures is provided below.

Federal Governance

North Carolina State Governance

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State Board Policies and Procedure

2014 General Election Information

Find answers to the frequently asked questions for the 2014 General Election in the tabs below.

You may look up your voter registration information on the State Board of Elections' website. Choose “Voter Lookup” under the "Voter Tools" menu.

The Voter Lookup tool will display your:

  • Name, address and party affiliation
  • Precinct and polling place
  • Election jurisdictions
  • Absentee status
  • Voter history
  • Sample ballot

To register to vote in North Carolina, a person:

  • Must be a United States citizen
  • Must be at least 18 years of age or will be 18 by the date of the General Election.
  • Must be a resident of North Carolina and the county in which you would like to vote
  • MUST NOT be currently serving a state or federal felony sentence.

To register to vote, you must successfully complete a voter registration application. Forms are available at the following locations:

If you are registering to vote for the first time in your current county of residence, you should mail your original signed application to your county board of elections.

You may also register to vote at the NC DMV, a public assistance agency, disability services agency, or an Employment Security Commission office, if you are visiting one of these agencies for service or assistance.

The following information from an applicant is required on a voter registration form:

  • First, Middle and Last Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Residential Address
  • Citizenship checkbox, and
  • Signature

Also, if you have a North Carolina driver license or identification card, you should provide this number on your application. If you do not have a driver license or identification card issued by the NC DMV, then you should provide the last four digits of your social security number. If you do not have one of these identification numbers, you will be registered, but you will need to show an ID the first time you vote.

The voter registration deadline is 25 days before the date of an election. For the November 4th General Election, that date is October 10, 2014.

You may mail the application.

  • The application must be received by the board of elections by October 10th.
  • The application will still be timely if it is received after this date as long as the envelope is postmarked by October 10th.

You may register in-person.

  • You may present to a board of elections office by October 10th.
  • If you are at a voter registration agency (NC DMV, public assistance agency, disability services agency, or Employment Security Commission) for service or assistance, you may register to vote by October 10th.

If you complete a form at a voter registration drive (outside of a store, at church, etc.), you must sign the application no later than October 10th, and the organizer is responsible for delivering your signed application to the county board of elections no later than October 10th.

You may fax or email a voter registration application.

  • If you are only changing your name or updating your address in the county, you may fax or email your application by October 10th. You do not need to mail the original application to the board of elections.
  • If you are registering for the first time in your county or you want to change your party affiliation, you may fax or email your signed application by October 10th, but you must still mail the application so that your county board of elections receives the original application no later October 15th.

You may not register online. North Carolina does not offer online voter registration at this time.

Send the completed and signed voter registration application to the county board of elections in the county in which you reside.

Once your voter registration application is processed by your county board of elections, you should receive your voter registration card in 1 to 2 weeks.

If you do not receive your card by this time, you should:

  1. Check the status of your voter registration online at www.ncsbe.gov, and
  2. Contact your county board of elections

You do not need to show your voter registration card in order to vote, but it is important to ensure that your address can be verified by successfully delivering your voter registration card to the address provided by you on your voter registration application. Therefore, if you don’t receive your voter registration, we strongly encourage you to contact your county board of elections to determine the reason for the delay.

No. Most persons may not register to vote and then vote on the same day in North Carolina. This includes registering to vote and then voting during the one-stop early voting period. This is no longer allowed.

There are exceptions to this rule for the following individuals:

  • Persons who become naturalized citizens after the voter registration deadline
  • Persons whose citizenship rights are restored after the voter registration deadline
  • Military voters who return to their home after the voter registration deadline.

Persons who believe they are subject to these exceptions should contact their county board of elections for further instructions. They should be prepared to provide proof that they fall within these exceptions.

Otherwise, individuals should be mindful of the voter registration deadline -- which again is 25 days before Election Day.

To change your name, address or party affiliation, you may complete a voter registration application and send it to your county board of elections.

If your name has changed, you should update your voter registration record with your new name by October 10th. You may change your name by sending one of the following to your county board of elections:

  • A signed voter registration application.
  • The update form on your voter registration card.
  • A signed letter or other written notice.

If you miss the voter registration deadline, you may still update your name with an election official when you present to vote. You will not be required to show proof of the name change.

You may change your party affiliation at any time up until the voter registration deadline, or 25 days before Election Day. For the 2014 General Election, the deadline to change your party affiliation is October 10th. You will not be allowed to change your party affiliation for the General Election after this date.

Since this is a general election, your party affiliation will have no bearing on the ballot that you receive. In a general election, for any and all contests, you may vote for any candidate(s) of your choice, regardless of their party affiliation.

If you have moved, you should either update your address (if you moved within the same county in which you are currently registered) or register to vote as a new voter (if you moved to another county in North Carolina).

North Carolina law requires voters to vote in their proper precinct based on their address as of 30 days before Election Day. For the 2014 General Election, this date of reference is October 5, 2014. So when determining your proper precinct for purposes of voting in the 2014 General Election, what was your address on October 5, 2014? This address will determine your voting eligibility.

If you moved within your county and did not update your address by the voter registration deadline (October 10, 2014), you may update your address and vote using the following methods:

Absentee Ballot By-Mail

You may enter your new address on the State Absentee Ballot Request Form. The county board of elections will update your address and issue the correct ballot based on your legal voting residence.

One-stop Absentee Voting (Early Voting)

Advise the one-stop worker of your correct address. The one-stop worker will enter your address into the voter registration system and you will be issued the correct ballot based on your legal voting residence.

Election Day

On Election Day, you may choose one of the following options:

  1. You may go to the proper precinct based on your new address in the county to receive the correct ballot based on your legal voting residence.
  2. You may go to a central location in your county that is determined by your county board of elections. At the central location, you will be able to update your address and vote(.) Contact your county board of elections to determine the location of their central voting location.
  3. You may vote in your old precinct. You will be required to vote a provisional ballot and the ballot will only count for those contests for which you are qualified to vote based on your legal voting residence.

Your legal voting residence is where you live or physically reside. Also referred to as your place of domicile, it is that place where if you leave, you have the intent of returning.

Here’s the law on this subject:

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.

So based on your individual situation, you may register to vote and vote in your college community, or you may register to vote and vote at some other address you believe to be your proper home or place of domicile.

Here’s the guidance from the Federal Voting Assistance Program:

For voting purposes, "legal voting residence" can be the State or territory where you last resided prior to entering military service OR the State or territory that you have since claimed as your legal residence. Even though you may no longer maintain formal ties to that residence, the address determines your proper voting jurisdiction. To claim a new legal residence, you must have simultaneous physical presence and the intent to return to that location as your primary residence. Military and their family members may change their legal residence every time they change permanent duty stations, or they may retain their legal residence without change. This may mean that the family's Uniformed Service member has a different legal voting residence than his/her family members. A Judge Advocate General officer or legal counsel should be consulted before legal residence is changed because there are usually other factors that should be considered besides voting.

No. North Carolina law requires voters to vote in their proper precinct based on their address as of 30 days prior to Election Day. If you feel that you will not be able to vote in your proper precinct on Election Day:

  1. You may request and vote an absentee ballot by mail, or
  2. You may vote during the one-stop absentee voting (early voting) period.

If you do not vote in your proper precinct, any provisional ballot cast in a precinct other than your proper precinct will not be counted.

Exception: Voters with an Unreported Move – moved to a new address that is in a new precinct within the county and did not report the move to the county board of elections – may vote at:

  • the new precinct,
  • a central location determined by the board of elections, or
  • the old precinct.

If you move within your county of current voter registration on or before October 5, 2014, you should update your voter registration record with your new address in the county no later than October 10th.

For purposes of the 2014 General Election, you have lost voting eligibility at your old address in the county. When you present to vote, you must give the election official your new address. On Election Day, please go to the proper voting place for your new address. If you cannot go to the voting place for your proper precinct or you don’t know where your proper precinct is located, you should contact your county board of elections for guidance.

If you move within your county after October 5, 2014, your legal voting residence for the 2014 General Election is your old address. When you present to vote, you should give the election official your old address. On Election Day, you must vote at the voting place for your old address. Although you will be voting with your old address, you may submit a voter registration form to the election official when you vote, or you should make every effort to update your address in the county immediately after Election Day.

If you move on or before October 5, 2014, you must register to vote in your new county by October 10th. You have lost voting eligibility in your previous county and you may not vote in your previous county.

If you move after October 5, 2014, your legal voting residence for the 2014 General Election is your old address in your previous county. When you present to vote, you should give the election official your old address. On Election Day, you must vote at the voting place for your old address.

Although you will be voting with your old address, you may submit a voter registration form to the election official when you vote, or you should make every effort to update your address in the county immediately after Election Day.

If you move on or before October 5, 2014, you must register to vote in your new state of residence. You have lost voting eligibility in North Carolina and you may no longer vote in this state. Do not attempt to vote in North Carolina by absentee ballot or in-person. You should check with your new state regarding their voter registration and voting requirements.

If you move after October 5, 2014, for purposes of the 2014 General Election, you may still vote using your previous North Carolina address. You may do so by absentee ballot or return to North Carolina and vote in person. Do not attempt to vote both in North Carolina and your new state of residence. Immediately after Election Day, please be sure to cancel your voter registration in North Carolina.

Registered voters may vote using the following methods:

  • Absentee Voting By-mail
    • Absentee Voting begins September 5, 2014
  • One-stop Absentee Voting (Early Voting)
    • Thursday, October 23, 2014 - Saturday, November 1, 2014 (1:00 p.m.)
    • Curbside Voting available to persons who are elderly or who have physical impairments
  • Election Day
    • November 4, 2014
    • Curbside Voting available to persons who are elderly or who have physical impairments

To find your polling location (if your voter registration has your current address):

  1. Check your voter registration card.
  2. Look up your voter information using the Voter Lookup tool

To find your polling location (if your voter registration does not have your current address in the county):

  1. Enter your current address in the Find My Polling Location tool
  2. Contact your county board of elections

If you moved within your county and did not update your address by the voter registration deadline (October 10, 2014), you may update your address and vote using the following methods:

Absentee Ballot By-Mail

You may enter your new address on the State Absentee Ballot Request Form. The county board of elections will update your address and issue the correct ballot based on your legal voting residence.

One-stop Absentee Voting (Early Voting)

Advise the one-stop worker of your correct address. The one-stop worker will enter your address into the voter registration system and you will be issued the correct ballot based on your legal voting residence.

Election Day

On Election Day, you may choose one of the following options:

  1. You may go to the proper precinct based on your new address in the county to receive the correct ballot based on your legal voting residence.
  2. You may go to a central location in your county that is determined by your county board of elections. At the central location, you will be able to update your address and vote(.) Contact your county board of elections to determine the location of their central voting location.
  3. You may vote in your old precinct. You will be required to vote a provisional ballot and the ballot will only count for those contests for which you are qualified to vote based on your legal voting residence.

A provisional ballot may be cast by a voter if the voter's name does not appear on the voter registration list or there is some question of the voter's eligibility to vote a regular ballot in the election.

You may check the status of your provisional ballot on the State Board of Elections' website under the "Voter Tools" menu. Just click on "Provisional Vote Lookup." Be sure to have your Provisional Identification Number or "PIN" available. Your provisional vote status will not be available until approximately 7 - 10 days after the date of the election.

Yes. Any registered voter qualified to vote in an election is entitled to assistance with entering and exiting the voting booth and in preparing or marking a ballot according to the following rules: * any voter is entitled to assistance from the voter's near relative (spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild).  No special reason is required. * any voter on account of physical disability, illiteracy or visual impairment is entitled to assistance from ANY person of the voter's choice, OTHER than the voter's employer or agent of that employer or an officer or agent of the voter's union. 

Yes, all North Carolina one-stop sites and precincts offer curbside voting to any voter that is elderly or has a physical impairment or disability that would make it difficult for him or her to physically enter the voting enclosure.

  1. When you enter the voting enclosure to vote, you must state your current name and residence address.
  2. You will not be required to show a Photo ID, but you may show one if you like.
  3. You will be advised that a Photo ID will be needed to vote beginning in 2016.
  4. You will be shown a list of Photo ID that will be acceptable for voting in 2016.
  5. You will be asked if you have one of the forms of acceptable Photo ID.
  6. If you do not have one of the forms of acceptable Photo ID, you will be asked to sign an Acknowledgment of No Photo ID.
  7. You will then be given information on how you can obtain a No Fee ID from the NC DMV.
  8. All voters will need to sign a vote authorization document that affirms you are who you say that you are and you are qualified and eligible to vote in the 2014 General Election at the address given.

A Photo ID will not be required in order to vote in the 2014 General Election. A Photo ID will be required in order to vote beginning in 2016.

No. Voters are not required to show their voter registration card.

Yes, if you like, but you will not be required to show your driver license or any Photo ID.

Some voters may be asked to show some form of ID if they did not provide an ID number that could be validated when they initially registered to vote.

Yes. “Early Voting” is really in-person absentee voting. In the elections world, we refer to it as one-stop absentee voting because in one visit, you may request the simultaneous issuance of an absentee application and ballot and have these balloting materials given to you. You may then cast your in-person absentee ballot. So what’s the purpose of putting a number on the ballot? In North Carolina, an absentee ballot must be retrievable, if it is determined that you are not qualified to vote your ballot.

The election official will scan your vote authorization document and the ballot they are about to give you to confirm that you are voting the correct ballot. The barcode scanner is not recording any information about you personally.

One-stop absentee voting, commonly referred to as “Early Voting,” permits registered voters to vote an absentee ballot in-person at specific one-stop sites in their county. One-stop absentee voting for the 2014 General Election will begin on Thursday, October 23, 2014 and end on Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.

No. You must be registered to vote in order to vote. The voter registration deadline for the General Election is October 10, 2014. Same-day registration during the one-stop absentee voting period will not be allowed.

Civilian Voters -- Non-military and non-overseas voters -- must complete the State Absentee Ballot Request Form in order to request an absentee ballot.

Military and Overseas Voters may use the State Absentee Ballot Request Form or the Federal Postcard Application to request an absentee ballot.

These forms and more information on requesting an absentee ballot are available on our website at www.NCSBE.gov.

For Civilian Voters, the deadline to request an absentee ballot for the General Election is October 28, 2014. Military and Overseas Voters have until 5:00 p.m. on November 3, 2014 to request an absentee ballot.

Absent Military and Overseas voters may use the State Absentee Ballot Request Form (must be registered in North Carolina) or the Federal Postcard Application (may be used as a simultaneous voter registration application) to request an absentee ballot. The deadline is 5:00 p.m. on November 3.

These forms and more information on requesting an absentee ballot are available on our website at www.NCSBE.gov.

Counties will begin counting absentee ballots on Election Day.

Either a voter or the voter’s near relative or legal guardian may request an absentee ballot.

A voter’s near relative can be the voter’s spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent, or stepchild.

Civilian absentee voters must return their voted ballot in enough time for the ballot to be received by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 (Election Day). If the ballot is mailed, the ballot will still be timely if it is received by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 7, 2014 only if the envelope is postmarked by Election Day.

Military and overseas ballots must be received by 7:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 (Election Day). These ballots may be received by mail, fax or email. If the ballot is mailed, the ballot will still be timely if it is received by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 13, 2014.

Yes. You, a near relative, or your legal guardian may return your absentee ballot in-person. It may be returned to:

  • your county board of elections office
  • a one-stop (early voting) site in your county

It is not lawful for anyone other than a near relative or legal guardian to return or take possession of a voter’s absentee ballot.

Not, not unless your neighbor is a near relative or your legal guardian. Only you or your near relative or legal guardian may return your absentee ballot in-person. It may be returned to either the board of elections office or to a one-stop site in the county. It is not lawful for anyone else to return or take possession of your absentee ballot.

Absentee voters must have their absentee ballot witnessed by two persons that are least 18 years of age. Only one witness is required if the witness is a notary-public.

The witness(es) may be anyone that is at least 18 years of age, except the following:

  • An owner, manager, director, employee, or other person affiliated with a hospital, clinic, nursing home or rest home, where the voter is a patient, unless the voter is a near relative of the person.
  • A person who is a candidate for nomination or election in the primary or election in which the voter is voting absentee, unless the voter is the candidate's near relative.

The witness(es) do not need to be registered voters or North Carolina residents.

You should check with your county board of elections or the post office regarding the proper postage for returning an absentee ballot. Do not guess.

Absentee ballots by mail, One-stop absentee ballots and Election Day ballots are counted on Election Day. The county boards of elections will count any approved provisional ballots and any additional absentee ballots after Election Day and prior to the county canvass of the election.

Counties will begin counting absentee ballots at 5:00 p.m. (or as earliest as 2:00 p.m.) on Election Day.

Election results are made official following the canvass of the election.

The county canvass for the General Election will be on November 14, 2014.

The State Board of Elections canvass will be on November 25, 2014.

The canvass is the official counting of the election results. On election night, the results are unofficial.

Provisional ballots will be counted prior to the county canvass of the election, if the provisional ballot is approved by the county board of elections.

The county canvass for the General Election will be at 11:00 a.m. on November 14, 2014.

The State Board of Elections canvass will be on November 25, 2014 at 11:00 a.m.