North Carolina’s March 8 primaries will determine which candidates appear on November’s general election ballot for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the General Assembly and several state high courts. Note that changes could be coming for how you vote in the 2022 elections, with lawmakers considering shorter deadlines for returning absentee ballot request forms and courts potentially ruling on voter ID requirements.
- Absentee-by-mail voting is available to all registered voters for both primary and general elections.
- Early voting, available for 17 days and running through the Saturday before an election, is an option to avoid long lines on primary and general election days.
- The state’s primary election is Tuesday, March 8; the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls for both dates will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
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.
- By mail: Print out a copy of the voter registration application on the North Carolina State Board of Elections website and mail the completed form to your county board of elections.
The deadline to register to vote in North Carolina is 25 days before an election, at 5 p.m. Completed voter registration forms need to be filed by 5 p.m. on Feb. 11 to vote in the March 8 primary, or by 5 p.m. on Oct. 14 to vote in the Nov. 8 general election.
You can check your registration status by using the voter search tool.
If you miss a voter registration deadline, you can register and vote at the same time during in-person early voting only — but not on Election Day.
Does my party affiliation matter when I vote?
It does in a partisan primary election. Three political parties are recognized by North Carolina: Democratic, Republican and Libertarian. A voter can register to be affiliated with a political party or can register as unaffiliated. When voting in a partisan primary, those affiliated with a party can only vote by using their party’s ballot. An unaffiliated voter must choose one of the following ballots: Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or nonpartisan — the latter only being available when there’s a nonpartisan contest or referendum on the ballot.
In the general election, voters use the same ballot, regardless of party affiliation.
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 voter’s near 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.
Absentee ballot request forms must be received by 5 p.m. one week before an election, though the North Carolina General Assembly is weighing legislation to make that deadline a week earlier. To be counted in the March 8 primary, an absentee ballot request form must be received by 5 p.m. on March 1. To be counted in the Nov. 8 general election, the request form must be received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 1.
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 5 p.m. three days before each election. Mail your ballot early to make sure it arrives on time.
- In person: Return your completed ballot to your county board of elections office up until 5 p.m. on Election Day. Or bring it to a one-stop early voting site in your county. Completed absentee ballots cannot be submitted at a polling place on Election Day.
Can I track my absentee ballot?
Yes. Every absentee ballot will have a unique identifier to allow voters and election officials to track it after it arrives at the county board of elections. 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. Early voting locations for the March 8 primary will open on Thursday, Feb. 17, and close on Saturday, March 5. Early voting for the Nov. 8 general election will begin on Thursday, Oct. 20, and end on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Unlike Election Day, when voters must go to their assigned precinct, voters can vote early at any polling site in their county. Polling sites and hours for early voting won’t be determined until early 2022. To find out where and when you can early vote, visit the website for your county board of elections.
When is Election Day? When are polls open?
The primaries are Tuesday, March 8, and the general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls for both are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Curbside voting will be available at polling locations for older voters and for voters with physical or mental disabilities.
On Election Day, you must vote at your designated precinct. Find your polling place by logging in to the voter search tool created by the board of elections.
Do I need identification to vote?
A state voter ID law was deemed unconstitutional in a September decision by a North Carolina superior court, so there are no ID requirements to vote, although the legal battle may continue. In the meantime, the state's absentee ballot request form requires a number from a North Carolina driver’s license or DMV ID card, or the last four digits of your Social Security number.
What races are on the ballot in 2022?
- U.S. Senate: With Sen. Richard Burr not seeking reelection, North Carolina will elect one new U.S. senator. Would-be candidates will file notices of candidacy in December.
- U.S. House: Population growth as determined in the 2020 census means North Carolina gained a House seat. All 14 seats will be determined in the 2022 election.
- General Assembly: All 50 state senators and 120 state House members.
- North Carolina Supreme Court: Two associate judges.
- North Carolina Court of Appeals: Four judges.
Editor’s note: This guide was updated on Oct. 8 with information about how to vote in 2022. The guide was first published on July 15, 2020. Voting rules, procedures and candidates may change before Election Day. We’ll keep this guide updated, so bookmark this page and check back.