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Voting & Elections

Voting an important right that each of us should exercise, but it can be a little confusing if you’ve recently moved to NC or you’re unsure what the latest election policies are. On this page, we’re curating the latest information to make sure your voice is heard.

2020 is not just a year for a presidential election, it’s also the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage (though it would be many more years until women of color were able to vote). This is also a year in which NC is pretty evenly split in party support, so your vote matters even more.

The pandemic and various policies are making voting this year a little trickier, but you still have lots of options. If you’re looking for ways to maintain physical distancing, we encourage you to vote absentee or go to polling locations during early voting. The US Postal Service is not running as efficiently as normal, so if you vote absentee be sure you return your ballot with lots of time before the deadline, or you can deliver your ballot in-person. See the sections below for more information.

Election 2020 Timeline

  • 9/4/20: Boards of Elections will start sending out requested mail-in absentee ballots
  • 10/9/20, 5pm: voter registration (by mail or DMV website) deadline for NC
  • 10/15/20: early voting and same-day registration begin in NC
  • 10/27/20, 5pm: request for mail-in absentee ballot due for NC
    • But remember that the US mail has been running slowly!
  • 10/31/20: early voting and same-day registration end in NC
  • 11/3/20: Election Day
    • Mail-in absentee ballots must be returned in-person or by 5pm
    • Polling locations open until 7:30pm (some locations may be scheduled to close earlier)

Download slides from the above presentation by You Can Vote.

The deadline to register to vote in NC is October 9, 2020 at 5pm. You can visit the NC State Board of Elections website for more information and the form to register to vote. You can also register to vote when getting a NC driver’s license or state ID. If you already have a vehicle registered with the NC Department of Motor Vehicles, you can update or change your voter registration through their online system.

In addition, Dave McDonald ( has extra voter registration forms, so email him about picking one up.

You can also register to vote during early voting. When you go to an early voting polling place, they can help you with same-day registration and you can vote all at once.

If you’re unsure if you’ve registered to vote in NC, you can search the NC SBOE voter database.

A voter registered in NC can vote in any election using a mail-in absentee ballot. There is an online portal to request a mail-in absentee ballot on the NCSBE website, and it is due by October 27, 2020 at 5pm. You can your ballot now if you’re already registered and want to beat the rush.

Ballots will be sent out starting on September 4, and you will need the signature of a witness. So ask a roommate, friend, classmate, labmate, or whoever you need to co-sign with you.

Ballots need to be returned by Election Day on November 3, 2020 at 5pm. If you mail your absentee ballot and it arrives after Election Day, it will still be accepted up the three days after Election Day as long as it was postmarked on or before Election Day.

Since the US Postal Service is experiencing delays, we highly recommend that you either a) mail in your absentee ballot at least a week before Election Day, or b) hand deliver your absentee ballot to your county board of elections office (addresses below).

  • Orange County (Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough): 208 S. Cameron St., Hillsborough, NC 27278
  • Durham County: 201 N. Roxboro St., Durham, NC 27701
  • Wake County (Raleigh, Cary): 1200 N. New Hope Rd., Raleigh, NC 27610
  • Chatham County: 984 Thompson St., Suite D, Pittsboro, NC 27312

Track your absentee ballot using BallotTrax to see when it was sent, when it was received, and when it was counted. See this article from WRAL for more information.

Early voting in Orange, Durham, Wake, and Chatham Counties is taking place from October 15 through October 31, 2020. You can also do same-day registration (registering to vote and voting on the same day) during the early voting period. Voting locations are typically far less busy for early voting than on Election Day, at least in a typical year. So if you want to vote in person but you’d also like to maximize your social distancing, early voting can be a good fit. Below are links to the specific voting locations and times for each county.

  • Orange County (Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough)
    • The closest locations to UNC’s campus are at the Chapel of the Cross (E. Franklin St. near the Morehead Planetarium) and Carrboro Town Hall
  • Durham County (click on the link for the flier)
  • Wake County (Raleigh, Cary)
  • Chatham County

Election Day is on November 3, 2020 with voting precincts open from 6:30am until 7:30pm. Importantly, you DO NOT need to show a photo ID to vote (see this page for more info).

If you’re registered to vote in another US state, you still have the option to cast an absentee ballot in that state. See this quick guide to each state’s policies. For more details, you can also visit the website for your state’s board of elections.
  • National elections: President, Vice President
  • State elections: US Senator, US House Representative, NC Governor, NC Lieutenant Governor, NC Attorney General, NC Secretary of State, NC Treasurer, NC Superintendent of Public Instruction, NC Auditor, NC Commissioner of Agriculture, NC Commissioner of Labor, NC Commissioner of Insurance, NC State Senator, NC State House Representative, NC Supreme Court Chief Justice and Associate Justices, NC Court of Appeals Judges, NC District Court Judge
  • Local elections: Board of Commissioners, Register of Deeds, Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor, Housing Bond (Wake County)

What do all of these positions do? Go to You Can Vote’s What’s on My Ballot Tool for more information.

If you are already registered to vote, you DO NOT need to show an ID in order to cast your ballot. If you are asked for an ID or not allowed to vote when you believe you should be, report it to this hotline: (888) OUR-VOTE.

If you are registering at an early voting location on the same day that you vote (what’s called “same-day registration”), you may be asked to show proof of address. This could be an ID card, a bill, or a government form listing your name and your address.