Voter Registration in North Carolina
“Am I registered to vote in North Carolina?” If you find yourself asking this question when an election is coming up, it is important to determine your registration status as soon as possible. North Carolina requires voters to be registered before they go to the polls. If you are not, you may be turned away and unable to vote. Instead of asking questions like, “Where do I vote in North Carolina?” on the day of the election, understanding the process ahead of time allows you to focus on which candidates best align with your values.
In this article, you will learn how to register to vote in North Carolina. You will learn who is able to vote in North Carolina, when they need to register to vote by, how to get registered whether you are a resident or a service member, the importance of voter cards, early voting options and how to change the information on your registration. By the end, you should have a clear idea of the options you have for practicing your civic duty in North Carolina.
Who can register to vote in North Carolina?
Registering to vote in North Carolina is a right that many individuals living in the state have. However, there are some exceptions. Only North Carolina adult residents are allowed to vote in the state. This means that in order to vote you must be older than 18 years of age and have an established residency in the county that started no less than 30 days before Election Day.
You are allowed to register to vote when you are 17 if you will be turning 18 by the end of the calendar year. As well, you cannot currently in prison or on probation because you were found guilty of a felony. Once you have served your felony sentence, you will need to go through the rights restoration process before you can vote. You can only be eligible to vote in one state, and you must be recognized as a US citizen by the federal government.
North Carolina Voter Registration Deadline
Paperwork for voter registration in North Carolina should reach the office no less than 25 days before Election Day. This is a firm deadline if you are registering to vote online, in-person or at a voter registration drive.
However, there is an exception if you are sending the form in via mail. In that case, your form needs to be postmarked by that date. If it is received afterward and the office still has time to process it, you will be registered to vote in the upcoming election.
How to Register to Vote in North Carolina
If you want to register to vote in North Carolina, you have a few different options. You can pick up a North Carolina Voter Registration Application at many government institutions, including:
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- Department of Social Services
Alternatively, you can choose to download the form online or participate in a voter registration drive. No matter how you get the form, if the person who gives you the form does not take it back and submit it themselves, you will need to mail it back to your County Board of Elections. You should make sure to have a proper state-issued ID with you when you register to vote, so that you can verify your identity.
Early Voting in North Carolina
If you are a registered absentee voter in North Carolina, you will be able to participate in early voting. Unlike in some other states, where all voters are able to vote early, in North Carolina this is designed to allow absentee voters to vote in person.
In order to participate, you will need to bring your absentee ballot to a ‘one-stop’ location. One-stop locations are able to process ballots from anywhere throughout the county, no matter where you have established residency.
North Carolina Voter Registration for Active Duty Military and Out-of-State Residents
Service member voter registration in North Carolina can be as simple as requesting an absentee ballot. There are also two options that provide additional advantages: the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot and the Federal Postcard Application. The former streamlines the process, allowing the service member to vote for the presidential election and allowing them to write-in any candidates they want for other elections.
If they want to write-in choices for non-presidential candidates, they will need to obtain this information by themselves. The Federal Postcard Application provides all the voting options a service member would get if they were voting in the state.
North Carolina Voter Registration for Absentee Voting
North Carolina residents can register for an absentee ballot for any reason. Unlike in some other states, they are allowed to choose to vote by absentee ballot even if they will be able to vote on Election Day.
In order to get the ballot, you will need to mail the North Carolina State Board of Elections, signing for the ballot. If you are unable to sign for the ballot yourself, a guardian or close family member may do so. Close family includes grandparents, grandchildren and in-laws.
These ballots can be mailed, emailed, faxed or turned in to a one-stop location. They must be postmarked by Election Day. As well, they can be received during no later than three days after the election, during business hours.
Voter Registration Cards in North Carolina
Voter registration cards in North Carolina can be used as a form of identification when you go to the polls. This is not required, as you may also use a state-issued photo ID, such as your official NC driver’s license. However, the card also has your signature on it. This signature is the one that will be used when determining whether you are who you say you are when you sign for a ballot.
For this reason, you want to make sure the signature you use to sign for your ballot is consistent with that which appears on your voter registration card. If your signature has changed significantly, you may submit a new registration form to update your signature.
How to Change Your Voter Registration in North Carolina
If you want to change your voter registration address in North Carolina, all you need to do is submit a new voter registration form. The old form will override the new one, updating all the necessary information. You can get a voter registration change of address, name or party.
If you are changing parties, it is important to note that there are five major parties. Because the Green Party only became official in North Carolina in 2018, it may not be listed as an option on your registration form. If this is the case, write “Green” in the other section. You will be added to North Carolina’s Green Party. If you want to be independent, you will need to mark yourself as “Unaffiliated”.
How to Replace a Lost North Carolina Voter Registration Card
Lost voter registration cards in North Carolina can be replaced by contacting your local county’s Board of Elections.