FAQs

Questions About Registering

Question About Voting

Who can register to vote?

To register to vote and vote in a North Carolina county, a person must meet the following qualifications:

      • Must be a U.S. citizen.
      • Must be a resident of the county, and prior to voting in an election, must have resided at his or her residential address for at least 30 days prior to the date of the election.
      • Must be at least 18 years old or will be 18 by the date of the next general election.
      • Must not be serving a sentence for a felony conviction (including probation or on parole). If previously convicted of a felony, the person’s citizenship rights must be restored. Citizenship and voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of the sentence. No special document is needed.
      • Must rescind any previous registration in another county or state.

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How can I check my voter registration status?

You can review check your current voter registration status at the NC State Board of Elections website here.

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How do I register to vote?

In North Carolina person must complete and sign a voter registration form. This form needs to be mailed to the county board of elections where the applicant resides. You can download the NC voter registration here, print it out at home, and then find your local county board of elections.

You may pick up a physical voter registration application at the following locations:

  • NC State Board of Elections
  • County Board of Elections
  • Public libraries
  • Public high schools or college admissions offices

Certain agencies in North Carolina are also required to offer voter registration services when at these locations for agency services:

  • North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (NC DMV)
  • Public Assistance Agencies
    • Departments of Social Services (DSS)
    • Departments of Public Health (WIC)
  • Disability Services Agencies
    • Vocational Rehabilitation offices
    • Departments of Services for the Blind
    • Departments of Services for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing
    • Departments of Mental Health Services
  • Employment Security Commission (ESC)

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What is the deadline to register to vote?

You have to be registered at least 25 days before the election. For the November 8, 2016 general election, a resident will need to be registered by Friday, October 14.

However, if you do miss the October 14 voter registration deadline, you may still register to vote and cast a ballot at an early voting site in your county during the early voting period (October 20 – November 5).

For same-day registration during the early voting period, you will complete a voter registration form and must show an identifying document. Acceptable identifying documents include:

• North Carolina driver’s license

• Government agency-issued photo ID

• Student photo ID with a school document showing the student’s address

• Utility bill, bank statement, payroll stub, or document from any government agency with your name and current address.

Please note: The identification requirement for same-day registration is different from the recently overturned photo ID requirement for voting.  Additionally, you can only complete same-day voter registration during the early voting period. You cannot register to vote and then cast a ballot on Election Day (November 8th).

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Do I need to bring identification in order to vote?

In July 2016, the federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in July overturned North Carolina’s voter ID requirement. Barring changes on appeal, registered voters will not be required to show a photo ID when voting in person this fall. You can find more information here.

However, if you are a first time voter in the state or county, you may need to show identification if you did not provide an identifying number on your voter registration form, or that number could not be verified. In this case, you would need to show a current photo ID (with or without an address) or a document with your name and current address (current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document). There are different ID rules for mail-in absentee ballots or at curbside voting.

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Where can I find my polling place?

Find your polling place here.

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I moved this year. Do I need to update my voter registration?

Yes. If you moved within the same county, you will need to complete an in-county change of address. You can do this by completing the North Carolina Voter Registration form, completing the section on your voter identification card, or sending a signed letter to your local board of elections.

If you move to a new county, your only option is to complete the NC Voter Registration form.

If you have moved more than 30 days before the election, you will need to update your registration with your new address no later than 25 days prior to the election (for the 2016 Election, the last day to register or update your registration is Friday, October 14.) If you fail to update your voter registration by election day, you can still vote at your new polling location only if you have not moved out of the county of your existing registration. Because your move was unreported to the State Board of Elections, you may be asked to vote a provisional ballot.

If you move fewer than 30 days before the election, you can still vote at your prior polling place, even if you moved outside the county.

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What’s a provisional ballot?

A provisional ballot is a ballot provided to a voter whose eligibility to vote is not immediately established on Election Day. You have a right to receive a provisional ballot. Once you complete your ballot, you will also need to complete a separate form that helps election 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.

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What is absentee voting?

Absentee voting allows registered voters to vote on a day other than Election Day. There are three types of absentee voting in North Carolina:

Absentee voting by mail: Any registered North Carolina voter can request a mail-in absentee ballot. This type of absentee voting allows a voter or a near relative or legal guardian to request that an absentee ballot be sent to the voter by mail. The voter may vote the ballot and return it to the county board of elections by the ballot return deadline.

Military-Overseas citizen absentee voting: Absent uniformed services members (and their eligible dependents) and U.S. citizens living outside of the United States may request an absentee ballot under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). This federal act and its corresponding law in this state allows uniformed service members and overseas citizens who are absent from their county of residence in North Carolina to request, receive and return an absentee ballot under special rights.

One-stop absentee voting (early voting): One-stop absentee voting (in-person absentee voting, or early voting) allows registered voters to go in person to their county board of elections office (or an alternative location) to vote an absentee ballot. One-stop absentee voting is conducted starting on the second Thursday before the election and ends at 1:00 p.m. on the last Saturday before the election. For the 2016 general election, early voting begins October 20 and ends on November 5. You may also register to vote during North Carolina’s early voting period.

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How do I vote absentee by mail?

You may request a mail-in absentee ballot from your county board of elections no later than 5:00 p.m. on the last Tuesday before the election. Your absentee ballot must be returned to the county Board of Election by 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election.

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How do I find my NC county Board of Elections?

Use this map from the NC Board of Elections to find the country in which you reside.

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What political parties can I register for?

When you register to vote in North Carolina you may choose to register as a Democrat, Republican or Libertarian, which are currently the only political parties officially recognized by the state. If you do not wish to register with one of those three political parties you may register as unaffiliated.

Unaffiliated voters can vote in either the Democratic, Republican or Libertarian primary election.

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