Feb 15, 2024 - Politics

Guide to voting in North Carolina's March 5 primary

american flags and the word vote

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Early voting for North Carolina's primary elections starts Thursday, and the process may have changed since the last time you cast a ballot.

Why it matters: Your vote, especially in some of the lesser known races, could decide which candidate moves onto the general election.

  • And who ultimately wins in November could impact your daily life. The state insurance commissioner, for example, recently rejected a drastic rate hike on homeowners insurance across the state.

Driving the news: Your ballot might be long. In addition to 2024 being a presidential election year, all of the Council of State offices are up for grabs, including the governor's mansion and attorney general, plus every state legislative and congressional seat.

  • Some of the most important primary elections will be the races you haven't heard as much about, like the state treasurer, insurance commissioner, auditor, labor commissioner and supreme court justice elections.

Between the lines: To become a particular party's nominee, a candidate must win their primary by at least 30% of the vote plus one.

  • Some races, like the Republican primaries for North Carolina's 13th Congressional District or lieutenant governor, are packed with contenders, and each candidate will need every single vote they can get. That includes yours.
  • If no candidate reaches the 30% threshold, a runner-up can request a second primary.

📃 Preview your ballot: Head to the state's voter registration lookup, search your name and scroll until you see a heading titled "YOUR SAMPLE BALLOT." Click the link under "Your Sample Ballot(s)."

  • If you're registered unaffiliated, you can vote in the primary of your choosing.
  • If you're planning on voting on March 5, you can find your polling place under "YOUR VOTING LOCATIONS."

🗓️ Key dates and times:

  • Thursday, Feb. 15: In-person early voting begins.
  • Feb. 27 at 5pm: Absentee ballot request deadline.
  • March 2 at 3pm: In-person early voting ends.
  • March 5: Primary Election Day. (Absentee ballots due by 7:30pm.)

📫 Here's how to complete your absentee ballot, and here's everything you need to know to return it to make sure it's accepted.

✍️ Not registered yet? There's still time. You can register during the early voting period the same day you cast your ballot. You'll need to provide proof of where you live. More on that here.

🪪 Don't forget: You now need a photo ID to vote. Check this list for what types of IDs are acceptable.

  • If you don't have a Photo ID, you can cast a provisional ballot. More details.

🗳️ Where to vote early: You can vote at any site in the county where you're registered. Full list of locations by county.

  • Be smart: Wake and Durham track early voting wait times.
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