Voting in North Carolina
As tensions increase, divides widen, and debates become impassioned, the political landscape can seem daunting to the average voter. With the primaries nearing, voters are faced with a multitude of decisions regarding whom they vote for. In this article, readers will learn how to vote in North Carolina, and strategies to pick the candidate best for their interests, beliefs, and morals.
In North Carolina, potential voters must first register. North Carolina does not offer online registration, so registers must print out complete a Voter Registration Form by hand, including a hand printed signature. The completed form must then be mailed, emailed, or faxed to the board of elections in the voter’s county. Find your county’s office here. The form allows for a voter to elect their party affiliation. This selection will determine which primary the voter can vote in. Affiliated voters may only vote in their selected party’s primary, and unaffiliated voters may vote in any one primary they choose.
After the completed registration form is mailed in, applicants will receive their voting card in one to two weeks. The deadline to register is twenty-five days before the election.
Alternatively, people who are not registered can go through the same-day registration process. At one-stop early voting centers applicants must complete a Voter Registration Application, and provide one of the following proofs of residence: a North Carolina Driver’s License, government issued photo ID with voter’s name and address, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government issued document with the voter’s name and address, a current college or university identification card with proof of habitation.
Once registered, voters can visit their assigned polling station in their precinct to cast a ballot on election day. Click here to find your polling station. *Note* Voters may only visit their specific precinct’s polling station on election day, not other stations in the county. Beginning in 2020, voters must bring a photo ID to vote. If one does not have an acceptable photo ID, a free ID can be gotten from your county board of elections until the Friday before election day. Polling places are open from 6:30am – 7:30pm on election day.
If one cannot vote on election day, there are two alternative methods of voting classified under absentee voting.
One Stop Absentee or Early Voting is the most popular of the alternative voting methods. It allows voters to cast their ballot at any one-stop voting site in the county; before election day. Early Voting is available from the second Thursday before the election until 1pm on the last Saturday before Election Day.
Alternatively, if a registered voter cannot make it to the polling station, they can request an absentee voter ballot. If the request is approved, the Board of Elections will mail them a ballot. This ballot can then be returned by mail to the Board of Elections office. Click here for the absentee ballot request form which can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to the Board of Elections office upon completion.
Choosing your candidate can be difficult and in a sea of policy proposals and buzzwords. The following are basic steps one can follow to better grasp their options.
1.Reflect on your beliefs. What economic, social, and diplomatic decisions affect your daily life? What would you like changed? Are tax cuts beneficial to you? Should abortion be allowed? How should the U.S intervene in foreign anti-terrorism efforts?
Here’s a list of central policy issues, forming an opinion will help to better align you with a party:
- Climate Change
- Health Care Costs
- Drug Abuse
2. Take a look at the candidates and their beliefs. Watch debates, look at their voting records here, visit campaign websites, and look at leadership positions the candidate has held. As well, consider inconsistencies between information and the opinions or facts they present. Voter guides are also a useful tool, they are typically published by newspapers, and radio stations and can be found with a simple google search.
3. Select a candidate that shares most or all of your stances, and ensure they are reliable and consistent in their decision making.
Democracy can only function effectively if its constituents participate in the electoral process. Problems will only be fixed if people care enough to act, whether that action be campaigning, activism, or simply casting their vote every two years.