Qualifications to Vote
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.
- 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 to Vote
To register, a person who meets the voting qualifications must sign and complete a voter registration application. When completing the application, applicants must provide their full name, residential address, date of birth, and citizenship status. In addition, the application must be signed. Failure to complete a required field on the form will delay the processing of the application. After completion, the application should be mailed to the board of elections in the county in which the applicant resides. If the application is for new registration in a county, the form must be submitted prior to the voter registration deadline. The board of elections must receive the original signed application.
If the application is complete and the person is qualified to vote, the county board of elections will mail a voter registration card to the applicant to provide notice of the registration. This mailing is non-forwardable and also serves to verify the applicant’s address. If a voter card is returned by the postal service as undeliverable, then a second mailing will be sent to the voter. In the event that that second mailing is also returned as undeliverable, then the applicant’s voter registration may subsequently be denied.
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.
Voter Registration Deadline
The deadline to register to vote in North Carolina is 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.
Voter Registration & Party Affiliation
There are three recognized political parties in North Carolina: Democratic, Republican and Libertarian. Voter registration applicants may choose one of these political parties when completing a voter registration application, or they may choose not to register with a political party affiliation. In this case, the voter’s party affiliation will be designated as Unaffiliated. North Carolina has a semi-closed primary system. In a partisan primary, voters who are affiliated with a political party may only vote the partisan ballot for the party for which they are affiliated; they are closed from voting in another party’s primary. Unaffiliated voters may vote in any one recognized party’s primary. In a General Election, all voters who are assigned to a precinct will receive the same ballot style and may vote for the candidate(s) of their choice, regardless of the candidate(s) party affiliation. There is no longer straight-party voting in North Carolina. Voters must make a separate selection for each contest separately.
Voter Registration Drives
Voter registration services may also be offered by any individual, group or organization that desires to conduct a voter registration drive. No special training or permission is needed to conduct a voter registration drive; however, organizers should follow the guidelines set out in our Voter Registration Drives: A Citizen's Guide brochure. County boards of elections can provide voter registration supplies to drive organizers in limited quantities (less than 1000 blank forms). If a larger quantity of forms is needed, organizers may request the forms directly from the State Board of Elections. Applications collected at voter registration drives must be delivered to the appropriate county board of elections by the voter registration deadline.
Any applicant that submits a voter registration application at a voter registration drive and does not receive a voter card in the mail within two weeks of this submission, should notify their county board of elections or the State Board of Elections immediately.
Where to Register
Click here download and print a fillable North Carolina voter registration application. Once completed, the application should be printed, signed and then mailed 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.
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)