Voting in North Carolina
In order to vote in North Carolina, a person must be a qualified registered voter. With limited exceptions, the deadline to register to vote is 25 days before the day of an election. There are three methods by which a registered voter may cast a ballot in this State:
- In-person at the voter’s proper precinct on Election Day
- In-person at a one-stop early voting site in the voter’s county of residence during the one-stop absentee voting period. This “same-day registration” process is currently permitted due to a preliminary injunction granted under a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, but this option remains the subject of ongoing litigation in federal court. Please check back at this website for updates. Click here to check your voter registration status.
- Absentee By-mail
When voting in person, a voter shall enter the voting enclosure and a precinct official assigned to check registration will at once ask the voter to state his or her current name and residence address. The voter shall answer by stating his or her current name and residence address. In a primary election, the voter will also be asked to state the political party with which the voter is affiliated or, if unaffiliated, the party in which the voter wishes to vote. The precinct official will examine the registration list to determine if the voter is duly registered to vote in the precinct and eligible to vote in the current election. If the person is duly registered and eligible to vote in the election, the voter will be required to sign an authorization to vote document, one-stop application, poll book, or other voting record.
Voters are not required to show their voter registration card when they present to vote. Voters may show a photo ID if they desire, but voters will be asked to show a photo ID beginning in 2016. To help North Carolina voters prepare for the 2016 photo ID requirements, during all elections in 2014 and 2015, voters will be given the list of photo ID that will be acceptable for purposes of voting starting in 2016. Voters will then be asked if they have one or more of these forms of acceptable photo ID. Any voter who states he or she does not have one of these forms of photo ID will be asked to sign an Acknowledgement of No Photo ID. These voters will be given information on how they can obtain a no-fee photo ID issued by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles.
- Click here: (English) | (Spanish) to see the Voter Check-in Review Document that will be shown to all voters in 2014 and 2015.
- Click here to see the document that will explain how a voter can obtain a No-fee Photo ID Card from the DMV.
Where to Vote
During the one-stop absentee voting period, registered voters may vote at any one-stop early voting site in their county of residence. One-stop absentee voting begins on the second Thursday prior to the date of an election and ends on the last Saturday before Election Day. On Election Day, registered voters should vote in their proper precinct. A voter’s proper precinct is determined by the address where the voter has resided for 30 or more days prior to the date of an election. Since voters must vote in their proper precinct, if a voter casts a provisional ballot out of their proper precinct, with the exception of voters with an “unreported move”, the ballot will not be counted.
If a registered voter in a county moved to a new address in the county, but failed to report the change of address to their county board of elections at least 25 days before the date of the election, the voter may still update his or her address at a one-stop early voting site during the absentee voting period. If the voter waits until Election Day to vote, then the voter is strongly encouraged to go to his or her new precinct in the county in order to be transferred into the new precinct. A precinct transfer will permit the voter to change his or her address and vote a regular ballot in the new polling place. If going to the new precinct is not possible, then the voter should contact his or her county board of elections for further instruction on how the voter may vote.
The hours for voting on Election Day are 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Any voter that is in line at 7:30 p.m. will be allowed to vote. During the one-stop absentee voting period, early voting hours vary by county and location. Voters should check the one-stop schedule in their county to determine specific hours for each early voting site.
When Ballots Are Counted
Ballots cast on Election Day are counted after the close of the polls. Absentee ballots (including one-stop absentee ballots) are counted at 5:00 p.m. on Election Day, or in some cases, may be counted as early as 2:00 p.m. on Election Day. County Boards of Elections will not release any unofficial election results until after the close of the polls. Provisional ballots are researched after Election Day and if the provisional voter is determined to be eligible to vote, his or her ballot will be counted prior to the county’s canvass of the election results. The county canvass is the meeting where election results in a county become official. The county canvass meeting is conducted 7 days after Election Day in all elections except a General Election. The county canvass for a General Election is 10 days after Election Day. During the canvassing period, county boards of elections will also count eligible civilian, military or overseas absentee ballots that are received after Election Day. Until the county canvass, all election results posted by the county or the State Board of Elections are unofficial.