This section describes the ways to vote, including voting early, using an absentee ballot, or voting on Election Day – and what to do if you have not registered or if you have recently moved.
Where and when do I vote on Election Day?
Your polling place depends on what precinct you live in; the polling location is listed on the voter card you were mailed after you registered. If you don’t have your card (and you do not need it to vote), you can find your polling place by clicking here or here. You can also call your county Board of Elections for help.
All polling places are open from 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM on Election Day. If you are in line at 7:30 PM, you will be allowed to vote. Some Early Voting centers are not precinct polling places and they will not be open on Election Day.
If you are unable to vote in your own precinct, you can go to any polling place in your own county on Election Day and vote with a Provisional Ballot, but your vote will count for only the items that would appear on the ballot in your precinct. This is called “out-of-precinct” voting on Election Day. You might use out-of-precinct voting because you don’t have time to get to your right polling place, but doing this may mean you don’t get to vote in some races. For example, your vote in a statewide or county-wide race would count, but there may be a district race that you are not entitled to vote in.
How can I vote early?
Beginning 19 days before an election, all NC counties must open at least one location where citizens can vote early. This is sometimes called “One-Stop Absentee Voting” or “In-Person Absentee Voting” because you are voting early in person and you will be “absent” on Election Day. (You can also vote early by mail with an Absentee Ballot.)
Any voter in the county can use any of the Early Voting sites in the county. You do not need an excuse to use Early Voting.
The location and hours of the Early Voting sites will be posted here when they are announced. You can also contact your county Board of Elections for Early Voting sites and times where you live, because those those will vary from county to county. Many counties have sites open on evenings and Saturdays, or even a Sunday. At least one site in your county will be open on the Saturday before Election Day (3 days before Election Day), which is when Early Voting ends.
You can also register and vote at any Early Voting site in your county during the Early Voting period (but not on Election Day). See Same Day Registration & Voting for details.
Note: All ballots cast early by eligible voters are counted and help determine the election winner, just like the ballots cast on Election Day. It’s a myth that they are not counted the same.
What is Same Day Registration & Voting?
North Carolina allows people to register and vote on the same day at Early Voting sites during the Early Voting period (19 to 3 days before Election Day). You can not use Same Day Registration on Election Day.
To use Same Day Registration & Voting:
- Go to an Early Voting location in your county. (See the statewide list of Early Voting sites or contact your county Board of Elections.)
- Show the election official an acceptable identification document (see list below).
- Complete a voter registration form.
- Cast your ballot.
Here are the choices of acceptable forms of identification; show one of them to the election official. The document must have your name and current address:
- NC driver’s license.
- Utility bill from an electric, water, gas, phone or cable company.
- Bank statement or bank-card statement.
- Paycheck or stub.
- Student ID and a document from the school with the student’s address.
- Any local, state, or federal government document showing your residential address, such as a car registration, fishing license, military ID, Social Security letter, tax bill, etc.
All registrations go through a verification process. If your ID or address turns out to be false, your ballot is pulled and will not count. Using a fake ID or providing false information on your registration form is a felony.
Click here to download a flyer on Same Day Registration & Voting. It provides more information and can be used to encourage others to take advantage of this option.
What if I can’t vote in person?
If you can’t make it to the polls on Election Day, you have the option to send your vote via mail using an absentee ballot.
To request an absentee ballot, you or a near relative must write your county Board of Elections and request a ballot (be sure the request is signed). This request can be made as early as 50 days before the election, but it must be received at least 7 days before Election Day, by 5 PM.
Where do I vote if I’ve recently moved?
If you registered to vote but have moved since then, where you vote depends on how long you’ve been at your new address. The safest, simplest, and most secure way to make sure you can vote is to use use Same Day Registration and Voting – go to an Early Voting site in your county, update your registration, and vote early.
If you moved to a different precinct in your county less than 30 days before the election, you can vote at your old precinct’s polling place on Election Day. If it has been more than 30 days, you can either (1) go to your old precinct, ask for a “transfer,” take it to your new precinct’s polling place and vote, or (2) go to your new polling place and ask for a Provisional Ballot if your name is not on the voter roll.
If you moved to a different county, then you need to register like a new voter, either by submitting a registration form 25 days before the election or by using Same Day Registration & Voting.
What if I have a problem? What is a Provisional Ballot?
If the election officials can not find your name on the list of registered voters when you go to vote, or if you encounter any other problem, you have the right to receive what is called a “Provisional Ballot.” You will have to fill out a form in addition to your ballot; the form helps the officials research your registration history. If your eligibility to vote is verified, your ballot will count like a regular ballot. You will be given a phone number and PIN number or a website to use to check the status of your Provisional Ballot and learn if it has been approved or rejected.
What is “straight-ticket” or “straight-party” voting?
Straight-ticket or straight-party voting is a way to vote for all the candidates of the same political party on the ballot by marking one box – except in North Carolina, when you make that choice, it does NOT include the presidential contest. You have to make a separate choice for your preferred presidential candidate.
After you mark the box to vote straight-party, you can still vote for another party’s candidate in a specific contest; that choice will overwrite your straight-party vote but just in that specific contest.
Note: Be sure to vote in the non-partisan contests, including those for judges. Non-partisan contests are not included in straight-party voting.