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How to Register, Vote and Track Your Ballot in North Carolina

En español | North Carolina allows all registered voters to cast an absentee ballot by mail, and early in-person voting is also an option.

The 2022 midterms decided races for the U.S. Senate and House, the General Assembly and several state high courts. The next statewide elections are in 2024, though there will be some local elections in 2023.

Essential info:

  • Upcoming elections: Visit the state board of elections website for information about elections when it becomes available.
  • Absentee-by-mail voting: This option is available to all registered voters. 
  • Early in-person voting: During the “one-stop early voting period,” as it’s called, North Carolinians can cast ballots at any early voting site in their county. 
  • Voting at the polls: You won’t need to show a photo ID to vote in person on Election Day.

Have there been any recent changes to voting in North Carolina?

North Carolina gained one seat in the U.S. House, as determined by population growth in the 2020 census. The new 14th District includes portions of Gaston and Mecklenburg counties. Also, a redistricting plan changed certain boundaries of some state legislative and U.S. congressional districts and may affect which candidates appear on your ballot. A legal battle over the redrawn maps is ongoing.

Voters walk to a polling place to cast their ballots in Charlotte.
GRANT BALDWIN/AFP via Getty Images

How do I register to vote?

  • Online: If you have a driver’s license or an ID issued by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, you can register to vote and update your registration address or party affiliation through the DMV’s online voter registration service.   

The last day to register online, by mail or at your county board of elections office or the DMV is 25 days before an election. If you miss the deadline, same-day voting and registration is available at early voting sites during in-person early voting – but not on Election Day.

You can check your registration status by using the voter search tool

Does my party affiliation matter when I vote in the primaries?

Yes. In a partisan primary, voters affiliated with a political party can only vote in that party’s primary. The Democratic, Libertarian and Republican parties allow unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in their primaries, but the Green Party does not.

How can I get a mail-in or absentee ballot? Are there important deadlines?

Registered voters can request absentee ballots through a state board of elections online portal or by downloading an absentee ballot request form online. You also can call your county board of elections office to request a form, pick one up at any county board of elections office or the state board of elections office, or have someone pick up or print out a form for you. A close relative (spouse, brother, sister, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, stepparent or stepchild) or legal guardian can also complete and submit the form on your behalf.

Once you receive your absentee ballot, you need two witnesses or one notary public to be present when you fill it out. Their job is not to see how you vote but to confirm that it is you marking the ballot.  

There are several ways you can submit a completed absentee ballot

  • By mail: Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and received no later than three days after an election. Mail your ballot early to make sure it arrives on time. 

Can I track my absentee ballot?

Yes. Simply register with BallotTrax, and you’ll be able to check on your ballot’s status. The state employs technology to prevent anyone from voting twice. 

Can I vote in person before Election Day?

Yes, at early voting sites. Unlike Election Day, when voters must go to their assigned precinct, voters can vote early at any early voting site in their county. Locations and hours can be found on the board of elections website.

What do I need to know about voting at the polls on Election Day?

On Election Day, you must vote at your designated precinct. Curbside voting will be available at polling locations for older voters and for voters with physical or mental disabilities. 

Find your polling place by logging in to the voter search tool or by using the polling place search tool. Check with your county board of elections office to confirm hours. If you are in line before the polls close, you’ll be allowed to vote.

Do I need identification to vote?

A state voter photo ID law was deemed unconstitutional by a North Carolina superior court, so there are no photo ID requirements to vote, although the legal battle is ongoing. In the meantime, the state's absentee ballot request form requires a date of birth and a number from a North Carolina driver’s license or DMV ID card, or the last four digits of your Social Security number. 

Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Dec. 2, 2022, with information about how to vote in North Carolina. The guide was first published on July 15, 2020.

Also of Interest:

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