How to Vote in North Carolina
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.
- What are the dates I need to know for the 2016 Primary?
- Do I need a photo ID to vote?
- How do I use a special provisional ballot if I don’t have an acceptable ID to vote?
- Where and when do I vote on Election Day?
- How can I vote early?
- What if I can’t vote in person?
- What if I have a disability?
- Where do I vote if I’ve recently moved?
- What if I have a problem? What is a Provisional Ballot?
What are the dates I need to know for the 2016 Primary?
Important election dates to save and share:
Monday, January 25 – Absentee voting by mail begins for March Primary. Download an absentee ballot.
Friday, February 19 – Regular deadline to register to vote at your current address for the March Primary. Check your registration.
Thursday, March 3 – Early voting period begins for March Primary – time and locations vary by county. Find your early voting location.
Tuesday March 8 – Deadline for absentee ballot request to be received.
Saturday, March 12 – Early voting period ends at 1 PM for March Primary.
Tuesday, March 15 – 2016 Statewide March Primary Election Day. Polls are open from 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM; deadline for receipt of absentee ballot (or if clearly postmarked that day, then receipt by March 18 is allowed.) Check out your primary ballot and districts.
Tuesday, March 22 – Final vote count (Canvass Day), includes all valid provisional and absentee ballots.
Do I need an ID to vote?
The ID requirements are being challenged in court; to be safe, be prepared to follow the requirements. The requirements, contained in two laws, say you can vote with or without a photo ID. They are described in detail at this special website and on this handout. Here are the basics:
Starting in 2016, you will need to show an “acceptable photo ID” to vote inside the polling place with a regular ballot. The acceptable IDs are: (1) a NC driver’s license or DMV-issued ID; (2) US passport; (3) US military or veterans ID card; (4) member card of a federal or NC recognized Indian tribe; or (5) an out-of-state driver’s license, but only if you vote within 90 of when you first register to vote in NC. A student ID or government employee ID is not acceptable.
If you don’t have one of the acceptable IDs, you have at least 3 options:
- Get a “free” photo ID for voting from the NC DMV;
- Vote by mail using an absentee ballot; or
- Vote at the poll with a special provisional ballot, which the law says “shall” count if you: (1) fill out a form to explain a “reasonable impediment” for why you don’t have an acceptable ID, and (2) write in your birth date and last 4 digits of your Social Security number, or show the poll official your registration card, utility bill, bank statement, pay stub or any government document with your name and address.
There are also exceptions if you have a physical disability that allows you to use curbside voting or if you have a religious objection to being photographed for an ID. For more details on the photo ID requirements, see www.GotIDNC.com.
How do I use a special provisional ballot if I don’t have a photo ID?
You may vote with a special provisional ballot if you don’t have one of the acceptable photo IDs for voting. Poll officials should provide you with a form that you can fill out explaining why you haven’t been able to get an ID. There will be 8 options that you can check, including lack of transportation, disability or illness, lack of birth certificate or other documents, busy because of work or family duties, or lost or stolen ID. This is a sworn statement. As long as you don’t give a silly reason, mock the law (“because the ID law is stupid”), or just write “I don’t have it today,” your provisional ballot is supposed to count. You will ALSO have to provide them with either the last 4 digits of your Social Security number and your birth date (on the form) OR show them a voter registration card, utility bill, pay stub, bank statement, or any government document with your name and address. You’ll get an 800# to learn if your provisional ballot was counted.
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 on the Board of Elections “page” with your registration by clicking here or at the League of Women Voters site in periods close to an election by clicking here.
It is important that you vote in your home precinct on Election Day. If you vote in the wrong precinct’s polling place on Election Day, your ballot probably will not count. Some people go to an Early Voting center on Election Day, but that will not work unless it happens to be your own precinct’s polling place.
All polling places are open from 6:30 AM