The deadline to register to vote in this State is 25 days before the day of the election. Forms that are received by the county board of elections office, or postmarked by the deadline, are accepted as valid applications for the upcoming election. Also, agency and DMV voter registration transactions that are completed by the deadline are accepted as valid for the upcoming election. Applicants will be notified by the county Board of Elections of their precinct and polling place assignments.
All voter registration forms for the 2023 Municipal Elections are due by 5 pm on Friday, October 13, 2023. If a voter misses the voter registration deadline but would still like to register, they may do so during the One-Stop "Early" Voting period beginning on Thursday, October 19, 2023.
To register to vote and vote in a North Carolina county, a person must meet the following qualifications:
- Must be a U.S. citizen.
- Must be a resident of the county, and prior to voting in an election, must have resided at his or her residential address for at least 30 days prior to the date of the election.
- Must be at least 18 years old or will be 18 by the date of the next general election (Persons at least 16 years of age may pre-register).
- Must not be serving a felony sentence and incarcerated in jail or prison.*
- Must rescind any previous registration in another county or state.
- Must provide their North Carolina driver's license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number
Per order of a North Carolina superior court, if you are not in prison or jail for a felony conviction, you may register to vote and vote. For more information about voter eligibility for people serving felony sentences, please visit this NC State Board of Elections Webpage.
First-time voters who at the time of their initial voter registration did not provide their North Carolina driver's license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number, or who provided a number that could not be validated, will be required to show identification when they vote. This identification does not have to be a photo ID. The requirement for first-time voters to show identification is a requirement of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002, a federal law not unique to North Carolina. Acceptable forms of HAVA ID include:
Acceptable HAVA ID
- A current and valid photo identification
- A copy of one of the following documents that show the name and address of the voter: a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document
First-time voters who are required to show HAVA ID will have been notified of this requirement by their county board of elections. If these voters do not bring an acceptable form of identification when they present to vote, they will be given a provisional ballot. The voter must then submit a copy of one of the acceptable forms of HAVA ID noted above to their county board of elections before the date set for the county canvass of the election in which they voted provisionally. The instructions provided to the provisional voter will explain the exact date and time by which the HAVA ID must be submitted. If the voter fails to provide the county board of elections with acceptable HAVA ID, the voter's provisional ballot will not be counted.
Once you've determined you're someone who can register to vote, there are two primary methods available to apply for voter registration in North Carolina:
- Filling out the North Carolina Voter Registration Application and submitting by mail
- Using NC. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) services:
- Selecting the option to register to vote while applying for a vehicle license or ID
- Submitting the voter registration application online through the DMV
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) requires certain agencies in this state to offer voter registration services when at these locations for agency services. These agencies include are:
- North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (NC DMV)
- Public Assistance Agencies
- Departments of Social Services (DSS)
- Departments of Public Health (WIC)
- Disability Services Agencies
- Vocational Rehabilitation offices
- Departments of Services for the Blind
- Departments of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- Departments of Mental Health Services
- Employment Security Commission (ESC)
If the application is complete and the person is qualified to vote, the county board of elections will mail a voter registration card to the applicant to provide notice of the registration. This mailing is non-forwardable and also serves to verify the applicant's address. If a voter card is returned by the postal service as undeliverable, then a second mailing will be sent to the voter. In the event that that second mailing is also returned as undeliverable, then the applicant's voter registration may subsequently be denied.
Voter registration applicants, who have met the voter registration deadline, should expect to receive their voter card within 1 to 2 weeks. Applicants should contact the county board of elections if they do not receive their voter card within two weeks. Note: The applicant must have transmitted the registration application by the registration deadline; otherwise, the voter card will not be mailed until after the completion of the election.
There are four recognized political parties in North Carolina:
Voter registration applicants may choose one of these political parties when completing a voter registration application, or they may choose not to register with a political party affiliation. In which case, the voter’s party affiliation will be designated as Unaffiliated.
Semi-Closed Primary System
North Carolina has a semi-closed primary system. In a partisan primary, voters who are affiliated with a political party may only vote the partisan ballot for the party for which they are affiliated; they are closed from voting in another party’s primary.
Unaffiliated voters may vote in any one recognized party’s primary given a party's primary is not "closed." In a General Election, all voters who are assigned to a precinct will receive the same ballot style and may vote for the candidate(s) of their choice, regardless of the candidate(s) party affiliation. There is no longer straight-party voting in North Carolina. Voters must make a separate selection for each contest individually.
When you move within the county, you should complete an in-county change of address. This can be completed on your voter identification card, a signed letter to your local Board of Elections, or on the voter registration form.
Note that if you move during a time close to an election, the following rules apply:
- If you have moved more than 30 days prior to the election, you will need to update your registration with your new address (or if applicable, register to vote in your new county of residence) no later than 25 days prior to the election.
- You will then be registered and may possibly have a new polling location. On election day, if you failed to update your voter registration, you may still vote at your new polling location, as long as you have not moved out of the county of your existing registration. Since your move was unreported, you may be asked to vote a provisional ballot.
- If you have moved fewer than 30 days prior to the election, you are still qualified to vote in your prior polling place and may vote only there, even if you moved outside of your county.
It is important that the board of elections is able to contact you by mail to inform you of changes to your polling place and/or voting districts, so be sure to notify the board of any changes to your physical and/or mailing address.
If you need to make other changes to your voter record, you may use the voter registration application, the form on your voter registration card or in a written statement containing the registrant's full name, and both the old/current information for which the change is being requested.
Change of party affiliation may only be requested on a voter registration application or the form on your voter registration card. Changes to party affiliation may not occur after the deadline for voter registration in any primary, second primary, special or general election.
No change may be made without your signature.
Move Within the State
When you move from one county to another, you will need to apply for voter registration in your new county of residence.
Use the NC voter registration application form (PDF), request that an application be mailed to you, or pick up a form from the board of elections or public library.
Note that when you move within the State, the law requires that you update the address on your driver's license within 60 days. When you obtain a duplicate driver's license, you may also elect to update your voter registration information as well.
Removing Deceased or Ineliegable Voters
All county boards of elections participate in a uniform program adopted and administered by the NC State Board of Elections. This program involves the cooperative efforts of many agencies including:
- Department of Motor Vehicles,
- NC Department of Health and Human Services,
- United States Postal Service,
- NC Administrative Office of the Courts, and
- Other States
These agencies assist with the removal of deceased voters, felony convictions, and voters who have moved from one state to another. And while these voter list maintenance efforts are ongoing, our office also relies on direct information from the voter, or in the case of a deceased voter, the request of a near relative to cancel the voter's registration.
Please use one of the following applicable forms to cancel a voter's registration in New Hanover County: