Everything you need to know about the voting process in North Carolina

 By Charlie Leonard 

August 19, 2020 (updated)

In the 244-year history of the United States, a presidential election has never been delayed. That makes 58 on-time elections, with Election Day 59 set to go occur on Tuesday, November 3. 

This will be the second election held during a pandemic (midterms were held in 1918 during the global outbreak of Spanish Flu), but the first that decides the President of the United States. Undoubtedly, this adds a new set of challenges to an already hectic process. If you’re an unregistered voter, this election year can seem especially daunting. Despite the circumstances, there’s still an opportunity to register, vote, and make your voice heard.

You can now request an absentee ballot online! 

(Request here)

Who Can Register:

In the state of North Carolina, you must meet the following criteria to vote:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Live in the county of his/her registration, and have resided there for at least 30 days before the date of the election
  • Be or will be at least 18 years of age by the date of the general election.
  • Not be serving a sentence for a felony conviction, including probation, parole, or post-release supervision. Once an individual has completed a felony sentence or been pardoned, he/she is eligible to register and vote. No additional documentation is needed.

If you meet the qualifications above, you may vote in the 2020 election.

Where to Register:

You can register online through the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles under the “Online Voter Registration” section. To register online, you’ll need a North Carolina driver’s license (or a DMV issued ID number), and a social security number. Complete the steps within the interface. Once completed, the form is sent to the North Carolina Board of Elections for processing.

To register by mail or in-person drop off, go to the North Carolina State Board of Elections website. If you choose this option, complete the following steps:

  • Fill out a voter registration form. The North Carolina Voter Registration Application can be found here
    • You’ll be asked to provide a valid NC driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. If none of those are available, you can attach a copy of a valid document with your name and current address. Examples of these documents include a bank statement, paycheck, utility bill, or other government document.
  • Print the form.
  • Sign the form (ink to paper). You must submit the form by mail or in-person if you’re a new registrant. 
  • Mail or drop-off your form to your county’s board of elections.

To determine where your county board of elections is located, go to the link provided here and select your county.

According to the NC State Board of Elections, if you meet the proper qualifications and complete the application, your county’s board of elections will mail you a voter registration card. If you submit your form before the deadline, the card should arrive within two weeks. If you don’t receive your card by that time, contact your county’s board of elections. The mailing is non-forwardable and serves to verify your address. If a voter card is returned by the United States Postal Service as undeliverable, a second card will be sent out. If the second card is undeliverable, the voter registration will be denied.  

The deadline to register online, by mail or in-person is Friday, October 9 of this year. An application that misses the deadline won’t be processed until after the election.

After the regular deadline expires, you may same-day register at an early-voting location. If you same-day register, you must verify your eligibility and provide proof of residence. Within two business days, the county will review your registration and address. As long as you meet the required qualifications, your vote will be counted. The same-day registration period is open during the early voting period from Thursday, October 15 to Saturday, October 31. 

Voting In-Person: 

To vote in-person, all you need to do is show up at your designated polling location. If you don’t know your polling location, follow the link here, and enter your address. 

Early Voting Period: Thursday, October 15 to Saturday, October 31.

Election Day: Tuesday, November 3

Voting by Mail:

To vote by mail, you must request an absentee ballot. To do that, fill out the mail ballot application here. Enter your voter information and military and overseas requests if applicable, then sign it and send it in.

You may send your form by mail to your county’s board of elections office address listed at the bottom. Be advised, the USPS has warned that ballots cast by mail aren’t guaranteed to arrive on time for counting. If you’d rather not use the mail, drop off your ballot at your county’s elections office location instead. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, October 27. A completed form must be received by your county’s board of elections office no later than 5:00 p.m. on that same Tuesday.

For more information, visit the North Carolina State Board of Elections website.

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