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How to Vote in North Carolina’s 2024 Elections

Posted on 04/09/24 by Natalie Missakian

En español

Important dates and election information

Key dates

Note: The primary election has passed and multiple races will head to a runoff (also called a second primary), including Republican contests for U.S. House District 13, lieutenant governor and state auditor. Check the North Carolina Board of Elections website to see if a runoff will be held in your district. In North Carolina, a second-place candidate may request a runoff for races in which no candidate has received more than 30 percent of the total votes. 

  • Primary runoff election: Tuesday, May 14
  • General election: Tuesday, Nov. 5
Voters walk to a polling place to cast their ballots in Charlotte.
GRANT BALDWIN/AFP via Getty Images

Voting at a glance

  • Voter registration: New registration of voters is not permitted for the runoff, unless you are newly eligible to vote. Those voters may register only on Election Day. The deadline for the general election is Friday, Oct. 11, but same-day registration is offered during early voting. Use the state's voter search tool to check your registration status.

  • Absentee voting: Any registered voter who is eligible to vote in an election may request to vote absentee by mail.

  • Early in-person voting: Available Thursday, April 25, through Saturday, May 11, until 3 p.m. for the runoff; and Thursday, Oct. 17, through Saturday, Nov. 2, until 3 p.m. for the general election. 

  • Voting at the polls: Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Bring a photo ID, such as your driver’s license or state ID card.

Voting in North Carolina

What to know about recent changes

Court rulings and laws passed in 2023 introduced changes to voting procedures, some of which are being challenged in court:

  • Voters will be asked to show an acceptable photo ID when voting. 

  • Absentee ballots must be received by the county elections board by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day; a three-day grace period has been eliminated.

  • To register and vote during early voting and ensure the ballot is counted, your registration card must be successfully delivered to the address on your voter registration form. Voters will be notified and given an opportunity to verify their address if the card is returned as undeliverable.

  • All political parties must allow unaffiliated voters to participate in their primaries.

Redistricting in 2023 changed the boundaries of state legislative and U.S. congressional districts and may affect which candidates appear on your ballot. Use the state's Find Your Legislators tool to look up your district.

Litigation is ongoing. Check back for updates.

Voter Registration

If you live in a county where a runoff is being held, you won’t be allowed to register between the primary and the runoff unless you are newly eligible to vote. In that case, you may register and cast your ballot on the day of the runoff (Tuesday, May 14).

For the general election, the deadline to register is Friday, Oct. 11, at 5 p.m. If you miss the deadline, you can register and vote on the same day during early voting.

Register to vote online, by mail or in person.

Same-day registration

For the primary runoff, same-day registration is available only to people who became eligible to vote between the primary and the runoff. Newly eligible voters can register on the day of the runoff (Tuesday, May 14) and then cast their ballot. Same-day registration during early voting is not available for the runoff.

For the general election, same-day registration is available during early voting but not on Election Day. Cast your vote at any early voting site in your county.

Primary runoff voting and party affiliation

To vote in the primary runoff, you must:

  • Live in the district where the runoff is being held.  
  • Be registered with the party of the candidates who appear on the ballot or an unaffiliated voter.

Unaffiliated voters may participate only if they voted for the candidates’ party during the primary election, or if they did not vote in the primary. For example, an unaffiliated voter who cast a ballot in the Democratic primary would not be eligible to vote in a Republican primary runoff.

Ways to Vote

Requesting an absentee ballot

Request an absentee ballot online, by phone or in person.

Mail or drop off the completed form to your county board of elections office.

Remember to include your date of birth and North Carolina driver’s license number, DMV-issued state ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. A close relative, such as a spouse, sibling or child, or your legal guardian can request and submit the form on your behalf.

Your form must be received (not just postmarked) by 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, for the primary runoff, and by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, for the general election.

Completing your absentee ballot

Two witnesses or one notary public must be present when you fill out your ballot and must sign the back of your ballot envelope. You must include a copy of an eligible photo ID or fill out an exception form. Find detailed instructions for voting by mail on the North Carolina State Board of Elections website.

Returning your absentee ballot

Return your ballot by mail or in person.

  • By mail: Mail your ballot to your county board of elections office. It must be received (not just postmarked) by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day — that’s Tuesday, May 14, for the runoff and Tuesday, Nov. 5, for the general — so mail your ballot early to ensure it arrives on time. Postmarked ballots that arrive after the deadline will not be accepted. Include a copy of an acceptable photo ID or fill out an ID Exception Form.

  • In person: Hand-deliver your completed ballot to your county board of elections office or a one-stop early voting site in your county by 7:30 p.m. on the day of the election. Completed absentee ballots cannot be submitted at a polling place.

Military and overseas voters have different absentee voting instructions and deadlines.

Register with BallotTrax to check your ballot’s status.

Voting in person before Election Day

You may cast your ballot at any early voting site in your county. For the runoff, early in-person voting is available from Thursday, April 25, through 3 p.m. Saturday, May 11. For the general election, early voting runs from Thursday, Oct. 17, through 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2.

Voting at the polls on Election Day

On Election Day, you must vote at your designated precinct. Find your polling place by logging in to the voter search tool or by using the polling place search tool. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. If you are in line by 7:30 p.m., you’ll be allowed to vote.

Voter identification

You will be asked to show an acceptable photo ID, such as a driver’s license or state-issued ID card, when voting. If you don’t have the required ID, you’ll still be allowed to vote, but you must fill out additional paperwork.

Those 65 or older may use an expired ID as long as it was current on their 65th birthday.

If you forgot your ID, you can vote a provisional ballot and bring the required documentation to your county board of elections office by 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 23, for the runoff and by Thursday, Nov. 14, for the general election.

Voters without an ID can get a free ID card from the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles or their county board of elections office.

Find more information about North Carolina’s Voter ID law, including a full list of acceptable IDs, on the state board of elections website.

Voting with a disability

If you have a disability and need help entering the voting booth or marking your ballot, you may ask a person of your choice to assist you, as long as that person is not your employer or union representative or their agent. North Carolina offers curbside voting at each polling place and early voting site.

Blind or visually impaired voters may vote online using an accessible absentee ballot.

Find more information about accessible voting, including assistance for voters in care facilities, on the North Carolina State Board of Elections website.

More information about candidates

Key 2024 races:

  • U.S. President
  • U.S. House: all 14 seats
  • Governor
  • State House: all 120 seats
  • State Senate: all 50 seats
  • State Supreme Court: one seat

To view or download sample ballots, enter your information into the state’s Voter Search tool, then scroll down to “Your Sample Ballot.”

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Dec. 29, 2023. It has been updated to reflect new information about the 2024 elections.

Natalie Missakian covers federal and state policy and writes AARP’s Fighting for You Every Day blog. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Haven Register and daily newspapers in Ohio. She has also written for the AARP Bulletin, the Hartford Business Journal and other publications.

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