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Registering to Vote in North Carolina


In order to register to vote in North Carolina, a person must meet the legal qualifications to vote 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 pen to paper (Electronic signatures do not count). 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 office in the county in which the applicant resides. You can find the address of your county board of elections office by clicking here.

If the application is complete and the applicant meets all qualifications 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 the second mailing is also returned as undeliverable, 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.

 

Qualifications to Vote


To register to vote in North Carolina, a prospective voter must meet all of the following qualifications:

  • Must be a citizen of the United States.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
     

Residency


  • Your legal voting residence is your place of permanent domicile.
    • That place shall be considered the residence of a person in which that person's habitation is fixed, and to which, whenever that person is absent, that person has the intention of returning.
  • Citizens who are homeless may register and vote.
    • In the event that a person's residence is not a traditional residence associated with real property, then the location of the usual sleeping area for that person shall be controlling as to the residency of that person. Residence shall be broadly construed to provide all persons with the opportunity to register and to vote, including stating a mailing address different from residence address. Voter registration forms provide a space for an applicant to visually map where they usually sleep.
  • You may continue to vote in your usual North Carolina county if you only temporarily relocate.
    • A person shall not be considered to have lost that person's residence if that person leaves home and goes into another state, county, municipality, precinct, ward, or other election district of North Carolina, for temporary purposes only, with the intention of returning.
  • You may not vote in a county if you are only living in that county on a temporary basis.
    • A person shall not be considered to have gained a residence in any county, municipality, precinct, ward, or other election district of North Carolina, into which that person comes for temporary purposes only, without the intention of making that county, municipality, precinct, ward, or other election district a permanent place of abode.
  • When you move to a new county or state, you are no longer eligible to vote in your previous county.
    • If a person removes to another state or county, municipality, precinct, ward, or other election district within North Carolina, with the intention of making that state, county, municipality, precinct, ward, or other election district a permanent residence, that person shall be considered to have lost residence in the state, county, municipality, precinct, ward, or other election district from which that person has removed.
  • If you move away and establish a new residence for an indefinite period, you are no longer eligible to vote in your previous county, even if you believe that you may eventually return to your previous residence.
    • If a person removes to another state or county, municipality, precinct, ward, or other election district within North Carolina, with the intention of remaining there an indefinite time and making that state, county, municipality, precinct, ward, or other election district that person's place of residence, that person shall be considered to have lost that person's place of residence in North Carolina, county, municipality, precinct, ward, or other election district from which that person has removed, notwithstanding that person may entertain an intention to return at some future time.
  • If you move away, register and vote in another county or state, you will no longer be eligible to vote in your previous county.
    • If a person goes into another state, county, municipality, precinct, ward, or other election district, or into the District of Columbia, and while there exercises the right of a citizen by voting in an election, that person shall be considered to have lost residence in that State, county, municipality, precinct, ward, or other election district from which that person removed.
  • College students may register and vote in the county where they are attending college (in most situations, the college student could also opt to register or remain registered at the address where they lived previous to moving away for college, and could choose to vote absentee). If a student registers at his or her school address, that registration cancels any previous registration in another county.
    • 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.
       

Completing the Voter Registration Form


North Carolina residents may use the forms below to register to vote or update their name, address or party affiliation. After completion, please mail the signed form to the proper county board of elections office. Click here to find the mailing address of your County Board of Elections office.

If you plan to conduct a voter registration drive, please fill out this form to request voter registration applications.

To register to vote or update your current voter registration:

  1. Complete a voter registration form.
  2. Print the form.
  3. Sign the form (ink to paper). Electronic signatures are NOT acceptable.
  4. Mail the form to your county board of elections.

 

Complete una Solicitud de Inscripción para Votar en Carolina del Norte


Si usted es residente de Carolina del Norte, utilice este formulario. El procesamiento de su solicitud será facilitada si envía el formulario a la Junta Electoral de su condado de residencia. Para encontrar la dirección de su Junta Electoral del Condado haga clik en el enlace County Offices arriba.

  1. Complete una Solicitud de Inscripción para Votar en Carolina del Norte.
  2. Imprima la solicitud.
  3. Firme la solicitud (tinta al papel). Las firmas electrónicas no son aceptables.
  4. Envíe la solicitud a la junta electoral de su condado.
     

Voter Registration and Party Affiliation


There are five recognized political parties in North Carolina: Constitution, Democratic, Green, Libertarian and Republican. 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, voters 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.

 

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.

Same-Day Registration

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.”

Same-day registrants must attest to their eligibility and provide proof of residence. A voter attests to her eligibility by completing a Voter Registration Application and affixing her signature under penalty of a Class I felony, after which she must prove her residence by presenting any of the following showing the voter’s current name and current address:

  • 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.

A student residing in a campus housing facility may prove his residency by presenting, in either hardcopy or electronic format, any document originating with the educational institution and containing the student’s name and on-campus housing address or facility name (e.g., “Jones Hall”). Acceptable documents may be issued by either public or private educational institutions and include correspondence, invoice, transcript, or a print-out or screen shot from any official registration or housing portal displaying the student’s name and on-campus housing address. Alternatively, the educational institution may voluntarily provide elections officials with a list of all students residing in a particular campus housing facility, which may be referenced in conjunction with a valid student photo identification card presented by the registrant. Any such list must be current at the time of use and must display individual facility information for each on-campus resident to ensure the student is properly registered at the appropriate address. Lists may not be used if they do not differentiate between residents at different campus housing facilities. Educational institutions may omit the names of individuals known to be ineligible based on citizenship status (e.g., exchange students holding student visas). The roster may be used as proof of a student’s on-campus residency only if the registrant presents a valid student photo identification card showing the student’s current name as it appears on the registration roster.

Within two business days of the person’s registration, the county board of elections will verify the registrant’s driver license or social security number, update the voter registration database, search for possible duplicate registrations, and proceed to verify the registrant’s address by mail. The registrant’s vote will be counted unless the county board of elections determines that he or she is not qualified to vote.

 

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)

       

Updating or Changing Your Voter Registration


How?

The North Carolina Voter Registration Application may be used to change any voting information, including: name, address and party affiliation. The change notification must be signed, and should be sent to the appropriate County Board of Elections by the voter registration deadline (25 days before each election).

What if I have moved?

When you move within a 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 form specified above.

When you move from one county to another, you will need to apply for voter registration in your new county of residence. Use the form specified above, request that an application be mailed to you, or pick up a form at any local board of elections or public library. Note that when you move within the State, the law requires that you update the address on your driver's license within 60 days. When you obtain a duplicate drivers license, you may also elect to update your voter registration information as well.

Note that if you move during a time close to an election, the following rules apply:

  • 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.
  • 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.

It is important that the board of elections is able to contact you by mail to inform you of changes to your polling place and/or voting districts, so be sure to notify the board of any changes to your mailing address.

What about other changes?

If you need to make other changes to your voter record (name change, party affiliation change, etc.), you may use a voter registration application. No change may be made without your signature. Note, in a partisan primary, a voter who is registered with a political party may only participate in that party’s primary. Voters who are registered as unaffiliated may participate in the primary of any political party that has opened its primary to unaffiliated voters. 

  • There are 5 recognized political parties in North Carolina:
    • Constitution
    • Democrat
    • Green
    • Libertarian
    • Republican
  • To vote in a party’s primary, you must be:
    • A registered member of that party OR
    • Unaffiliated AND the party has chosen to “open” its primary
  • The parties with “open” primaries in 2019 are:
    • Democrat
    • Libertarian
    • Republican

How will I know the change has been made to my record?

Once you have completed and mailed your changes to your local board of elections, allow two to six weeks for delivery of your voter identification card. Read the information thoroughly and note any changes or mistakes on the card. A voter identification card is for your use only, you do not need the card in order to vote.
 

Cancel a Voter Registration


  • To Cancel Your Voter Registration:
    • This form is intended to provide notification of a voter’s request to cancel his or her voter registration. Upon submission of this form, the appropriate county board of elections will remove the voter from the county’s list of registered voters. Requested information will only be used to ensure that we are removing the correct voter.
  • To Report a Deceased Voter: 
    • This form is intended to provide notification of the death of a North Carolina registered voter to a county board of elections. Upon confirmation of the voter, the county board of elections will remove the voter from the county’s list of registered voters. This form may only be completed by a near relative or personal representative of the deceased voter’s estate.
       

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 who wish to remain in compliance with North Carolina law should be familiar with the responsibilities listed below. 

Voter Registration Drive Responsibilities

The decision to conduct a voter registration drive is an important one. Voter registration is fundamental to elections. Assisting qualified citizens in becoming registered voters and involving them in the democratic process is a worthy cause and carries with it certain responsibilities. Voter registration drive organizers and participants must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • You must provide individuals with current, state-approved voter registration forms. These forms may be ordered from the State Board of Elections (if quantities are over 500) by filling out and signing a NC Voter Registration Supplies Order Form and faxing it to the number on the form or picked up from county boards of elections’ offices (if quantities are below 500). Drive organizers should NOT make copies of the voter registration form available on our website.
  • You must refrain from coercing, threatening, or intimidating any person engaged in the registration or voting process.
  • You must refrain from altering any information placed on the form without the permission of the person registering.
  • If assisting a person in filling out a voter registration form, you must place information on the form that accurately reflects the intent and direction of the person.
  • You should not offer a person a voter registration form that has been premarked unless the person receiving the form has requested the premarking.
  • You must refrain from giving a partially completed voter registration form to a person for registering, unless that person is made aware of the information already on the form and the person registering does not object to that information. An unaltered blank registration form must be provided to the registrant if requested.
  • You may not refuse to accept completed voter registration forms.
  • You are encouraged to submit completed voter registration forms and any accompanying documentation to the county board of elections in the county in which the applicant resides within 5 business days of receiving the forms, but certainly, no later than the 25th day before an election. Failure to do so could be punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor.
  • It is a misdemeanor for any person who is not an elections official or who is not otherwise authorized by law to retain a registrant's signature, full or partial Social Security number, date of birth, or the identity of the public agency at which the registrant registered under G.S. 163A-884, any electronic mail address submitted under Part 2 of Article 17 of this Chapter, or driver license number from any form described in G.S. 163A-862 after submission of the form to the county board of elections or elections official.

    In other words, it is unlawful for any person who is not an elections official or not otherwise authorized by law to take the above-described information from a voter's registration form and keep it in any form for any purpose.

     
Requesting Voter Registration Forms
  • If you plan to conduct a voter registration drive, please complete a Voter Registration Drive Supplies Request Form. Applications collected at voter registration drives must be delivered to the appropriate county board of elections by the voter registration deadline.
  • County boards of elections are able to provide voter registration supplies to drive organizers in limited quantities (less than 1000 blank forms). Drive organizers who desire a larger quantity should request the forms directly from the State Board of Elections.
Completing Voter Registration Forms 

The following fields on a voter registration form are required:

  • Citizenship and Age checkboxes
  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Address (need physical address and mailing address, if applicable)
  • Signature

Any voter registration forms completed by new registrants at voter registration drives or sent by mail must contain the applicant’s North Carolina driver license number or DMV-issued identification card. If none of these are provided, the registrant shall provide the last four digits of his/her social security number. If the registrant cannot supply an identification number, he/she may still register, but must be prepared to show identification at the polling place the first time he/she presents to vote.

If you realize that a registrant has not completed the voter registration form, DO NOT complete the form for them. The incomplete form should not be altered by you, but should be given to the county board of elections AS IS. The county boards of elections have procedures in place to contact the applicant to retrieve the missing information. Also, do not place sticky notes or flags on any incomplete form to alert the county board to these deficiencies. Voter registration applications are scanned into the voter registration database system prior to any data entry and these notes are simply removed by the county board staff prior to scanning.

Returning Voter Registration Forms

All forms - both complete and incomplete - that have been marked by a person must be mailed, faxed, or scanned and emailed to the State Board of Elections.

NC State Board of Elections
P.O. Box 27255
Raleigh, NC 27611

Fax: (919) 715-0135

Email: [email protected]

We do not require unused forms to be returned. However, these forms are printed at a cost to the state. If you do have a large number of forms that you do not plan to use, please return them to your local county board of elections office or to the State Board of Elections.

 
If you have registered at a voter registration drive but have not received your voter card in the mail:

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.
 

Voter Registration FAQs


What is the voter registration deadline?

The voter registration deadline is 25 days prior to an election.

May I fax or email a voter registration form?

Yes, you may fax or email your voter registration form, but if the application is for new registration or change of party affiliation, the county board of elections must receive your original signature within 20 days of the voter registration deadline for an election.

May I sign a voter registration application for someone else?

No, only a voter may sign his or her voter registration application. You are not permitted to sign the form for your spouse, child or parent, even if you have power of attorney for the person.

I moved, but I forgot to update my voter registration. May I still vote?

Click here to update your voter registration

If I register as an unaffiliated voter, can I vote in a primary election?

Yes. If you are an unaffiliated voter, you can choose to participate in any recognized party’s partisan primary, or you may request a non-partisan ballot. However, you must choose only one party's primary. Participating in a partisan primary will not affect your status as an unaffiliated voter. If you request a non-partisan ballot, you will only vote for those contests that are non-partisan (i.e. judicial contests, referenda, etc.).

Are voter registration forms available in other languages?

Voter registration materials and instructions are currently available in both English and Spanish.

If I don't vote, will my voter record be purged from the other voter registration rolls?

Voter registration records are not “purged” simply due to non-voting. Voters are removed from the voter rolls due to a biennial list maintenance process that is mandated by federal and state law. If a county board of elections has not had any contact with a voter for a period of two federal election cycles, then the voter will be sent a forwardable address confirmation mailing. The voter will be required to return the confirmation mailing within 30 days of the mailing. If the confirmation mailing is not returned by the voter within that time, or the mailing is returned by the postal system as undeliverable, then the voter’s record will be marked inactive in the voter registration database. Inactive voters are still registered voters. If an inactive voter presents to vote, the person will be asked to update his or her address with the board of elections. In the event that an inactive voter remains in this status for another two federal election cycles (meaning the county board still has no contact with the voter), then the voter will be removed as a voter in the county.

How are ineligible voters removed from the voter registration rolls?

In North Carolina, county boards of elections follow a comprehensive list maintenance schedule to remove names of individuals who are no longer eligible to be registered due to death, felony conviction, removal from the county, or lack of voter contact.

Is a voter registration card required to vote?

No. A voter registration card simply serves to confirm that the voter is registered, and to provide specific details such as the voter's polling place. That information can also be found on this website through the Voter Lookup tool. If you would like to receive a replacement card, please contact your local County Board of Elections office and ask that a new card be mailed to you.

Who can vote by mail-in absentee ballot?

Any registered voter. It is not necessary for the voter to actually be absent on Election Day. Any registered voter can vote a civilian mail-in absentee ballot (for more information, click here). North Carolina voters who are active-duty military, U.S. citizens who are overseas on Election Day, or family members of those two groups may also vote through special absentee ballot options (for more information about military-overseas absentee voting, click here).

Can college students in North Carolina vote?

College students can register and vote in the jurisdiction of their residence. A registered voter may only have one residence. If the college student considers his or her school address to be his or her residence, the college student may register and vote in the county where the school is located.

Are absentee ballots and provisional ballots only counted when the election contest is tied or the results are close?

No. All ballots are counted in the official election results. Election results that are reported on Election night are not official. These unofficial results will include votes from Election Day, one-stop early voting sites, and mail-in absentee ballots that were received in time to be counted on Election Day. Before the elections office finalizes the official count (through a process called canvass), the County Board of Elections will also include in the count all timely mail-in absentee ballots received on or after Election Day, as well as provisional votes that the County Board of Elections determines to be properly cast.