First of all, everyone should take a moment to get out to the polls and vote– it is our right and privilege as U.S. citizens, after all! And, individual votes do in fact make a difference: in the last general election one incumbent state representative lost to their opponent by a mere 68 votes. Sixty-eight! So if you’re questioning whether your vote matters, it does. And if you’re questioning whether you should bother voting in either the Republican or Democratic primary on Super Tuesday, you absolutely should!
So now, without further ado, here is everything you need to know before heading out to your neighborhood polling place– including where exactly to find said polling place.
First, make sure you’re registered.
Registering to vote is kind of important. And by “kind of” we mean “very.”
The deadline to register to vote in North Carolina is 25 days before the date of an election, so with the March 3 primary just around the corner some unregistered folks might be out of luck; however, an option exists to complete a Same-Day Registration during the one-stop early voting period (more on that later).
If you think maybe you’re registered but can’t quite recall if you updated your registration when you moved, or whether you registered with a specific party versus registering as an unaffiliated, don’t fret. Just fill out the required information on this handy online form to check your registration status. It’s super simple, and you can even help dad or grandma or your best friend make sure they’re registered, too.
When it comes to the primary election, exactly how you’re registered makes a difference. Those registered as unaffiliated can cast a ballot in either the Republican or the Democratic primary. You cannot vote in both parties’ primaries. Similarly, those registered specifically as Democrats or Republicans must vote in their own party’s primary– no “traitors” are allowed to vote in the opposing party’s primary. So once you’ve ensured that the whole family is registered and figured out what primary everyone is voting in, the next step is determining when and where to cast those ballots.
Go to the correct polling place.
If you’ve ever waited in line at a polling place just to finally make it to the front and realize you can’t actually cast your ballot there, then you already understand the importance of double-checking where your correct polling place is located. If you’re unsure, you can find your neighborhood polling place— as well as your sample ballot– by using the same online voter registration tool we mentioned earlier. You can also find your polling place by inputting your current address, which should match that on your voter registration, into yet another handy online form. Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.
And if you’re too excited to wait until Super Tuesday to exercise your constitutional right to vote…
You can vote today! True story.
Although the official primary date remains just over a week away, early voting has been ongoing across the state since Feb. 13 and will wrap up Feb. 29. Nothing quite beats the thrill of casting your ballot on election day, but if you want to beat those polling place crowds then there are a couple of options.
One-stop early voting
One-stop absentee voting, aka early voting, allows registered voters to essentially cast an absentee ballot in person ahead of Election Day. You can also update your name and address at this time if needed and, as we mentioned earlier, unregistered voters can take advantage of the same-day registration opportunity. To complete same-day registration at an early voting site you’ll simply need to attest to your eligibility with a signature and provide proof of residence. Then, you’re all set to vote away! But first, check out this list of early voting sites or search via your county of registration to find out where to go.
If you are qualified to vote in North Carolina but cannot, or prefer to not, vote in person then you may request and receive a mail-in absentee ballot– but hurry. Your county board of elections office must receive your completed absentee ballot request form by 5 p.m. the Tuesday before the election– in this case Tuesday, Feb. 25. Once your request is fulfilled and you receive your ballot, there are a handful of specific absentee-voting instructions to keep in mind when completing it before ensuring it’s in the hands of your county board of elections (or at the very least postmarked and heading that direction) by 5 p.m. on Election Day.
Displaying a photo ID is not a voting requirement in this election. In 2018 North Carolina voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that would require individuals to show a form of photo identification when voting, but legal challenges and subsequent court rulings have since placed the law in limbo.
Countdown to Super Tuesday.
North Carolina is not the only state holding its primary elections on March 3: voters in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia will also be hitting the polls on Super Tuesday. This is a huge day for the crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates given the number of delegates up for grabs, and will likely determine who remains in or drops out of the race moving forward.
Although the presidential primary is perhaps the “most exciting” race or has received the most widespread media attention, there are plenty of incredibly important statewide and local primary races– some with similarly crowded candidate fields– right here in North Carolina. Elections do matter, and sometimes the ones closest to home make the greatest impact on our day-to-day lives.
So once you’ve ensured that you’re registered properly, determined what primary you are supposed to or want to vote in, decided how and when you want to vote, and figured out where to cast your ballot, then you are all set to get out there and participate in the electoral system. Happy Super Tuesday!