There are multiple ways North Carolinians can participate in this year’s election, which will decide who goes to Congress, controls state government and presides over courtrooms across the state.
The NC Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has already started accepting ballots by mail, known as absentee-by-mail ballots. To vote — absentee or in any other manner — North Carolina residents must first register. This can be done at any of the county elections board offices, the state board, the DMV or online.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Polls will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m., in accordance with state law. If any voter is in line to vote at the time polls close, he or she will be permitted to vote.
Here’s what you need to know in order to vote on or before Election Day.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
How to register
Those who want to vote Nov. 6 must turn 18 years old by that date and register to vote by Oct. 12 at their county’s local Board of Elections office. (To see if you’re registered, go to vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup.) There’s also one-stop registration and early voting during the general election.
Same-day registrants must fill out a registration form, attest to their eligibility to vote and provide proof of residence. This proof can be a North Carolina driver’s license, other government-issued photo ID, current utility bill, bank statement or government document showing name and address. College photo IDs are also accepted when paired with proof that the student lives on campus.
Registration applications and more information can be found at www.ncsbe.gov/voters/registering-to-vote.
Displaced by Florence?
If you live in one of 28 counties in southeastern North Carolina, you have until 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15 to register to vote (an extra three days). In those areas, mailed voter registration applications must be postmarked by that date.
Eligible residents who miss that deadline can still register and vote in their county of residence during the in-person early voting period, from Oct. 17 to Nov. 3.
The state elections board created a webpage at www.ncsbe.gov/florence for residents who might need help voting after being affected by Hurricane Florence.
The board is working with a marketing agency to saturate Florence-affected areas with messages about their registration and voting options. The effort may include targeted social media ads, radio spots, billboards and newspaper and website ads, board spokesman Pat Gannon said.
Getting ready to vote
Find out what your ballot will look like: www.nc.gov/voter-lookup-sample-ballot
Read more elections coverage: nando.com/530
Lines to vote are typically shorter during early voting days than they are on Election Day. Early voting starts on Wednesday, Oct. 17 and ends on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Early voting sites and hours are determined by each county’s elections board. But in many areas, weekday voting hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. To find out where the early voting sites are in your county, and what hours they’ll be open, go to nando.com/52- or your county’s elections board website.
If the polls close while you’re in line to vote early or on Election Day, you will still get a chance to vote. So stay in line!
To fill out an absentee ballot, a voter or voter’s family member can download the request form from the state board website and fill it out at home. They can also acquire a form at their local county elections board or from the state elections board. The deadline to fill out an absentee request form is Tuesday, Oct. 30.
Once the request is received and granted, the county board will mail the ballot with instructions.
North Carolina is a “no excuse” absentee state, meaning any registered voter can request and vote a by-mail absentee ballot.
Voting in college
College students can vote in the jurisdiction that they consider to be their residence. If that’s at their parents’ house, they must vote there.
If a college student considers his school address to be his residence, the college student must make sure that his registration reflects that address. Then, he or she can vote in the county where the school is located.
Voting on Election Day
On Election Day, you must vote at your designated precinct’s polling place and cannot vote at the elections board or one of the early voting sites.
Your Election Day polling site is listed on your voter registration card. You can also look up your polling place at vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup.
What do I need to bring?
If you’re registered to vote, you don’t need to bring anything with you. There’s no photo ID requirement in North Carolina.
If you’re unregistered but plan to do same-day registration at one of the early voting sites, you’ll need to fill out a form and bring proof of residence. Proof can be a driver’s license, a photo ID issued by a government agency, or a copy of a utility bill or a bank statement.
College students can present their college ID card along with one of the aforementioned documents proving that they live there.
Information about the voting process is available online at the state elections board’s website: ncsbe.gov. The state board is located at 430 N. Salisbury Street in Raleigh.
To contact the state elections board, call 919-814-0700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.