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Voting in North Carolina

Frequently Asked Questions

Below find ways to vote, including voting early, using an absentee ballot, or voting on Election Day – and what to do if you have recently moved.

For more info on your Election Day polling place, see the State Boards of Elections’ Polling Place Search.

For information about registering to vote, see Who Can Vote.

Do I need an ID to vote?

North Carolina voters will NOT be required to show a photo ID in order to vote.

See our page on Voter ID here for the latest details about ID rules.

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Where and when do I vote on Election Day?

It is important for you to vote in your home polling place on Election Day.

Your polling place depends on what precinct you live in; the polling location is listed on the voter registration 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.

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 to 7:30 PM on Election Day. If you are in line at 7:30 PM, you will be allowed to vote.

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What if I can’t get to my home precinct on Election Day?

You can cast a ballot that will be counted (at least in part) at any precinct’s polling place in your county. Your vote will count for all contests on the ballot at your home precinct (e.g., mayor, at-large city council, countywide and statewide contests).  If you try to vote in the wrong precinct’s polling place but in your correct county, you will be sent to the “Help Desk” and shown how to use a Provisional Ballot. This is called out-of-precinct voting. If you are not offered a provisional ballot in this situation, ask for it.

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How can I vote early?

Early Voting lasts 17 days and ends on the Saturday before Election Day.

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.

Early Voting sites and times vary by municipality. Many sites are open on evenings and Saturdays, or even Sundays, especially in even-numbered years. The last day of Early Voting is the Saturday before Election Day. 

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 is a myth that they are not counted the same.

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What if I can’t vote in person?

If you can’t make it to the polls in person, you have the option to send your vote via mail using an absentee ballot.

To request an absentee ballot, you or a near relative or legal guardian must submit an Absentee Ballot Request form to your county Board of Elections (be sure the request is signed). This request must be received at the County Board’s office at least 7 days before Election Day, by 5 PM.

Click here for: How to vote through the mail with an absentee ballot.

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What if I have a disability?

People who have visual, physical, cognitive, or mental disabilities have a right to vote, protected by federal and state law. You have the right to receive assistance when you are voting, but a poll worker is not allowed to offer assistance – you have to ask for it. If you have a disability or difficulty reading (due to language ability, vision, etc.), you can ask for assistance from any person of your choice, except not an agent of your employer or union.

You can also remain in a car and vote from the curbside of the polling place if you would have difficulty going inside, due to your age or a physical disability. A poll worker will bring the ballot to you.

You may want to contact your county Board of Elections and ask them about the accessibility of your polling place or an Early Voting location. You have the right to request another permanent polling place in advance of the election if yours is inaccessible.

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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.

If you moved within the same county:

If you moved 30 days or more before Election Day: Complete an in-county change of address form at an Early Voting site or Election Day polling place. You will not need to show proof of residence. If you vote on Election Day, go to the precinct that corresponds to your new address.

If you moved less than 30 days before Election Day: Go to the Election Day polling place in your previous place of residence. Update your registration after Election Day.

The most convenient and reliable way to vote if you have moved within your county but have not updated your registration is to vote at an Early Voting site during Early Voting.

If you moved to a different county:

If you moved to your new county 30 or more days before Election Day: you should update your registration and vote in your new county of residence. Your last chance to update this information and vote is on the last day of Early Voting.

If you moved to your new county less than 30 days before Election Day: you can vote in one of the following ways:

  • Visit an Early Voting site in your previous county of residence,
  • Visit your Election Day polling place in your previous precinct, or
  • Request an absentee ballot from your previous county Board of Elections office.

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Who can vote in a Primary or Runoff election?

A Primary election narrows the field of candidates for the General Election. Follow the rules to register to vote to participate in the Primary. You do not have to vote in the Primary to vote in the General Election.

You may not vote in the Primary Runoff (also called the Second Primary) unless you were registered at the time of the original Primary, even if you didn’t vote in the Primary.

If you are registered as an Unaffiliated voter and want to vote in a partisan Primary, you can ask for a Republican, Democratic, Libertarian or Nonpartisan ballot. Your choice does not change your Unaffiliated status or obligate you to vote for a party’s candidates in the General Election. However, if there is a Primary Runoff, you can only participate in the Runoff of the same party that you selected in the original Primary.

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What if I have a problem? What is a Provisional Ballot?

If the election officials cannot 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, and it creates a record that voting-rights groups can review later to make sure you were treated fairly. If elections officials verify your eligibility to vote, your ballot will count like a regular ballot. You will be given a phone number or website to learn if your Provisional Ballot was approved or rejected, and why.

If you had a problem and were not offered a Provisional Ballot or requested one and were denied your right to receive one, please call our Voter Hotline at 1-888-OUR-VOTE or 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

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