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In-person voting starts Thursday: Where things stand and what NC voters need to know

Photo by Hill Street Studios/Getty Images.

North Carolina’s 359 early voting sites open up this week for in-person voting and same day registration.

This year’s in-person early voting period runs from Thursday October 20 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, November 5. Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.

Voters can use any early voting site in the county where they’re registered. The State Board of Elections maintains an online lookup for sites and schedules at https://vt.ncsbe.gov/OSSite/.

According to statistics provided by the board, the number of sites in this year’s election represents a 17% increase in the number of locations over 2018, which had the highest turnout in 50 years despite being a so-called “Blue Moon” election year with no statewide race at the top of the ballot.

Absentee ballot requests for voting by mail and civil and military overseas voters continue through November 1.

So far, more than 45,000 voters have already cast absentee ballots in the 2022 general election, a total that’s well ahead of 2018’s record pace, but still below that of presidential election years.

Registration for voting on Election Day closed last Friday, but same day registration is available through the in-person early voting period. If you want to register and vote at an early voting site, you’ll be asked to provide one of the following:

  • a North Carolina driver’s license.
  • Other photo identification issued by a government agency. Any government-issued photo ID is acceptable, provided that the card includes the voter’s current name and address.
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document showing the voter’s name and address.
  • A current college/university photo identification card paired with proof of campus habitation.

ID is not necessary for voters who are already registered.

The following is from a release distributed by the State Board of Elections

The State Board offers the following 10 tips for early voters:

  1. Voters may cast a ballot at any early voting site in their county. For sites and hours in all 100 counties, use the One-Stop Early Voting Sites search tool. Also see One-Stop Voting Sites for the November 8, 2022 Election (PDF).
  2. Sample ballots for the primary election are available through the Voter Search tool. For more information on candidates for the N.C. Supreme Court and N.C. Court of Appeals, see the State Board’s Judicial Voter Guide 2022: Midterm General Election. The State Board does not provide information about candidates for other contests, but some media outlets and advocacy groups do. Many candidates also have websites and social media accounts. Knowing your candidate choices in advance and being familiar with the ballot will help your voting experience go more smoothly.
  3. Individuals who missed the regular voter registration deadline on October 14 may register and vote at the same time during the early voting period. Same-day registrants must attest to their eligibility and provide proof of where they live. For more information, visit Register in Person During Early Voting. This is the only option for individuals who missed the regular registration deadline to be able to register and vote in the general election.
  4. When you check in to vote at an early voting site, you may update your name or address within the same county, if necessary.
  5. Voters who receive an absentee ballot by mail may deliver their completed ballot to an election official at an early voting site in their county. Ballots will be kept securely and delivered to the county board of elections for processing. For more information on returning absentee-by-mail ballots, see Detailed Instructions to Vote By Mail.
  6. Voters who requested an absentee-by-mail ballot but have not yet returned it may choose instead to vote in person during the early voting period or on Election Day, November 8. Voters may discard the by-mail ballot and do not need to bring it to a voting site.
  7. Under state law, all early votes – by mail and in person – are considered absentee votes because they are cast “absent” of Election Day. You can see that your early vote counted in the “Your Absentee Ballot” section of the Voter Search database. Type in your first and last names to pull up your voter record. Scroll down to the “Your Absentee Ballot: By Mail or Early Voting” section. Once your ballot is received by your county board of elections, “Absentee Status” will show “VALID RETURN,” the “Return Method” will be “IN PERSON” and your “Return Status” will be “ACCEPTED.” Your ballot status also will show up in the “Voter History” section of your voter record as soon as your county completes the post-election process of compiling the information on who has been recorded as having voted during the election through the various voting methods. This may take a couple of weeks or longer.
  8. The State Board asks that all voters respect the rights of others to participate in the election. Intimidating any voter is a crime. Voters who feel harassed or intimidated should notify an election official immediately.
  9. Voters at one-stop early voting sites are entitled to the same assistance as voters at a voting place on Election Day. Curbside voting is available for eligible individuals at all early voting sites. For more information, visit Curbside Voting.
  10. North Carolina law prohibits photographing or videotaping voted ballots. Voters may use electronic devices in the voting booth to access a slate card or candidate information, provided they don’t use the devices to communicate with anyone or take photographs of their ballot.

For more information about early voting, please visit Vote Early in Person.

Registration by the numbers

Prof. Michael Bizter of Catawba College

The number of younger voters continues to grow at the fastest pace of all age groups and women outpace men according to an analysis of new registrations by Catawba College political science professor Michael Bitzer.

Gen Z voters account for more than a third of the state’s 800,000 new registrations over the past two years followed by Millennials with 30%. The two groups are also driving a shift in party affiliations with more than half in each group registering unaffiliated.

“I think we are in the midst of generational replacement,” Bitzer said. Nationwide, the majority of Gen Z and Millennial voters tend to favor Democrats, he said. “The question I have is, are North Carolina Millennials and Gen Zers reflective of that national dynamic?”

Despite the increases in registrations, their impact won’t be fully felt until they start voting at the same pace as older cohorts. “At some point, the tipping point is going to occur and it will occur because of turnout.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in June, which ended the federal protections for abortion is likely reflected in some of the gender gap among new voters, but North Carolina didn’t have the same kind of major shifts as other states where referenda and new laws drove up registrations among women.

The breakdown by gender for voters so far this year is 183,199 women, 166,838 men and 72,062 listed as unknown or unreported.

A month-by-month breakdown of the gap this year shows it to be fairly consistent throughout the year with a slight increase in the spread over the past three months.

Bitzer said North Carolina has long had a fairly persistent gender gap in registrations and as well as a recent history of contentious races that have steadily increased turnout.

“I think in this state, we’re kind of at at the boiling point already and everybody’s in the mix,” he said.

Although the regular registration period has closed, the total number of new voters will continue growing through same day registrations during early voting.

In 2018, 45,478 people registered and had their ballots accepted during early voting according to the Board of Elections.

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In-person voting starts Thursday: Where things stand and what NC voters need to know