The May 17 primary is a few weeks out, but voters can start casting their ballots Thursday across the state.
Start flexing your democratic power early for the upcoming May primary election. North Carolina’s early voting period begins this Thursday and lasts through May 14.
But before you head out, make sure to check out your counties’ locations and hours, as they differ from election year to year. You can find out more at the NC State Board of Elections page. And you can look up voting locations by county here.
If you’d rather vote from the comfort of your home and mail your ballot in, you can do that as well. You don’t need to give any stated reason to qualify to vote by mail. Get more information on how to request an absentee ballot here.
Why We Vote in Primary Elections
Primary elections help narrow down the field of party candidates.
Primaries are like a semi-final round leading up to November’s general election (which would be the championship game, in this metaphor).
In primaries, multiple candidates from the same party go head-to-head on the ballot to become their party’s nominee, with people voting in whatever party primary they are registered with. Independents may vote in either, but must choose only one.
The sizable number of unaffiliated voters in our state also get to choose which primary to vote in, which are typically limited to the two major parties in our state, Republicans and Democrats.
Then, whoever wins the May 17 primary goes on to represent their party in November’s general election.
North Carolina has some big races to decide, with a crowded Republican primary in the US Senate race, several competitive Congressional races, and more. You can look up the choices on your ballot by looking up your voter information on the NC Board of Elections website.
(Almost) Never Too Late To Register
Not registered to vote? Not a problem.
North Carolina allows for one-stop early voting, meaning you can register to vote on the same day you cast your early ballot in-person. This doesn’t hold true for Election Day, May 17, so make sure you head to an early voting site between Thursday, April 29, and Saturday, May 14, if you need to get registered to vote.
More information on how to register to vote, and what documents you’ll need, is available here.
Remember, you should update your registration if you’ve changed your name (marriages and divorces happen, we know) or have moved.