Time’s running out to register to vote for NC’s primary elections. Here’s what to do.

A man listens to instructions before receiving his ballot at Reid Ross Classical School on November 8, 2022 in Fayetteville, NC. (Photo by Melissa Sue Gerrits for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By Michael McElroy

February 5, 2024

Want a say in the nominees the major parties put up in November’s general election? You need to register by Feb. 9.

Friday is the deadline to register to vote in North Carolina’s March 5 primary elections, and while there are still some options if you miss it, things get far more complicated and less convenient.

As traffic patterns seem to suggest, more and more people are moving to our state every day, and many may not have had a chance to get their voting paperwork in order. And if the 2020 election is any guide, first-time voters will likely play a huge role again in the outcome of this year’s elections, when abortion rights, public school funding, and climate change will be some of the biggest issues on the ballot.

So if you have recently moved to North Carolina or are looking for the 2024 elections to be your first, here is a quick guide to registering to vote.

Who can register?

There are some requirements in order to register. You have to be a US citizen, 18 years old (or you will be 18 by November 5), and have lived in the county in which you are registering for at least 30 days. So if you moved here yesterday (Feb. 5), you’re good, but if you moved here today, (Feb. 6) you’ll need to wait until the November 5 general election to cast your vote.

How do you register?

Here are the main ways:

  • Online or in person through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • And by mail. (Registrations by mail must be postmarked by Friday in order to be accepted.)
Time’s running out to register to vote for NC’s primary elections. Here’s what to do.

Here are the other key dates in the primary election.

What you’ll need

Whether you go through the DMV or the post office, you’ll need to fill out a registration form that asks for:

  • Your citizenship status.
  • Your age.
  • Your legal first name and last name.
  • Your date of birth.
  • Either your NC Driver’s License Number or the last four digits of your Social Security Number. (You can apply for your license and register to vote at the same time.)
  • Your full residential address.
  • Your signature and date to say that all of the above is true and accurate.
  • You can also list your gender, race and ethnicity and choose a political party, though those are not required.

What happens if you miss the deadline?

Don’t worry, there are still ways to participate in the primary elections. You can register and vote at the same time during the in-person early voting period from February 15 to 3 p.m on March 2.

That process is a little more cumbersome, and you can register only at your assigned early voting site, but it’s still a popular option, especially for college students. You can find your early voting site here.

You’ll also need to show proof of residency, such as a current driver’s license, another photo identification issued by a government agency, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document showing your name and address.

College students who live on campus can use a college-issued ID or document that has their name and on-campus address.

Voters registered as Democrats or Republicans can vote only in their party’s primary, but unaffiliated voters can vote in either.

You can check your registration status through the North Carolina Board of Elections here.


  • 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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