The Do’s and Don’ts of Voting: Tips for Participating in NC’s Primary Elections

A polling site in Graham, N.C. on Election Day 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

By Michael McElroy

May 13, 2022

Primary Election Day is Tuesday. Here’s what state officials say you need to know to make your vote count.

With the potential end of abortion rights, the devastation of climate change and the threats to democracy all bearing down at once, it’s time again to help determine how all those potential futures play out. It’s time to vote.

The primary election in North Carolina is next Tuesday, May 17, and the early voting period ends at 3 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, May 14. 

In a primary election, voters decide who will represent each party in November’s general election. These elections often see far less participation than general elections, but this year features some crucial votes that will help determine NC’s direction on several major issues. Elections for one US Senator, several members of Congress, the state General Assembly, and two spots on the state Supreme Court, to name just a few, are on the ballot.

The North Carolina Board of Elections released a few tips for those voting on Tuesday to help them navigate this crucial, but sometimes confusing process. 

  • Polls are open on Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. As long as you are in line by 7:30 p.m. you will still be able to vote.
  • Voters can vote only in the primary of the party to which they are registered. Democrats can vote only in the Democratic primary, for example, and Republicans only in the Republican primary. Unaffiliated voters, however, who now make up the biggest voting group in the state, can vote in whichever primary they choose. But they can vote only in one primary, so no double dipping. 
  • Some 30 local municipalities are also electing mayors and city council members. You can find out if your local governments are holding elections through the NCBOE’s “local voter” tool.
  • You are NOT required to show a photo ID to vote, so if someone asks you to, contact an elections official right away.
  • You may not register to vote on Election Day unless you became a US citizen or had your rights restored after a felony conviction after April 22, 2022, the registration deadline.
  • There is assistance available to voters with a disability or other physical needs, but you must request it.  There is curbside voting for those who are unable to physically enter the voting place and an election worker can help you once you are inside. To find out more about the help available and the steps needed to secure it, see the NCBOE’s “Help for Voters with Disabilities page.”
  • “Intimidating any voter is a crime,” the NCBOE reminds us. “Voters who feel harassed or intimidated should notify an election official immediately.”
  • If your name is not on the voter list, don’t worry.  You can still request a provisional ballot. Elections officials will look into your status and if you are indeed eligible, the ballot will be counted. You can check the status of the provisional ballot here. 

And once all the votes are cast, there’s nothing to do but wait for the results. The NCBOE will post the results as soon as they are available on the official Elections Result Dashboard.


  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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