Make a Plan to Vote!

10 mins read

 North Carolina 2020 Elections

What’s your plan to vote this year? We encourage you to make a plan to vote as early as possible, using whatever option works best for you. Your plan could be to request a ballot right away and return it by mail or at your local county board of elections. Your plan could be to vote early in person during the early voting period, Oct. 15 through Oct. 31. 

We have provided all the links and information you need to make a plan to vote in North Carolina below, along with answers to many frequently asked questions.  

Quick start: Complete a pledge to vote to get started on your plan to vote and receive helpful reminders from Democracy NC

Are you registered to vote at your current address?

You can check your voter registration and find your polling place here: Check Your Voter Registration.

If you have an NC Driver’s License or DMV-ID card, you can register to vote or update your voter registration online at Update Your Voter Registration.

If you do not have an NC Driver’s License or DMV-ID card, register to vote by completing the paper form, signing it and mailing it to your county board of elections: Complete Your Voter Registration Form.

Vote by Absentee Ballot 

Your voting plan could be to vote by absentee ballot. Absentee voting is a proven, secure and effective way for people to make their voices heard, and it’s an especially important option during this COVID-19 pandemic. 

In order to receive an absentee ballot in NC, you must request it from the Board of Elections.   

If you would like to vote absentee, we recommend that you fill out the Absentee Ballot request form online and have it sent to you by mail. You also can download the form and fill it out, then return it by mail, email, fax or in person today. Find your county board of elections here: List of County Board of Elections.

If you would like to vote absentee, we recommend that you request and return your absentee ballot as early as possible — ballots are already being mailed out. That way, there will be plenty of time for you to receive a ballot and return it to the NC Board of Elections as soon as possible.

When you receive your absentee ballot, read all of the included directions.  Mark your absentee ballot in the presence of one adult witness. The witness should NOT violate your privacy (i.e., watch your voting choices) while you vote.

Once you vote, follow these steps to return your ballot:

  • Seal the ballot.
  • Complete required information and sign where indicated on the return envelope.
  • Have a witness complete and sign the envelope.
  • Mail (with a first-class stamp) or deliver in person to your county board of elections office or an open early voting site during the early voting period.  

Absentee ballots in NC can not be returned in person to a polling site on Election Day. NC also does not have “drop boxes” at this time. The completed absentee ballot (placed inside the return envelope) must be returned to the county board of elections by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3 — but don’t wait! Vote and return your absentee ballot as soon as you receive it. 

Absentee by-mail voters in North Carolina can find the status of their ballot in three different ways: through BallotTrax, through the State Board’s Voter Search Tool and by contacting their county board of elections.

Democracy NC has a great “how-to” video on voting by mail in North Carolina: How To Vote by Mail in 2020.

Do you have questions about voting by mail? You are not alone! Here are some answers to commonly asked questions:

“How will I know if my absentee-by-mail ballot has been received and counted?”

In NC, you will be able to check if your absentee-by-mail ballot has been received and counted via the NCSBE web site. The NCSBE tracks this information in the Voter/Absentee Lookup tool. Following the directions on that link you will be able to review the status of your absentee-by-mail ballot.

“Can I vote in person even if I requested an absentee ballot?”

In NC, the answer is YES — if you have not yet returned your voted absentee by mail ballot, you may vote at an early voting polling site or at your precinct on election day. You may destroy your unvoted absentee by mail ballot once you have voted in person.

The NCSBE has answers to more vote-by-mail FAQs here: Voting by Mail in North Carolina in 2020.

Early Voting 

If you want to vote in person, we recommend voting early at any “One Stop” early voting location in your county. There is no photo ID required to vote in person in North Carolina this year.  During early voting, you can also register to vote and vote on the same day! 

The 2020 early voting period in North Carolina is Oct. 15 through Oct. 31. There are usually fewer people voting at the beginning of the early voting period, so go early to avoid the crowds. 

NC voters may cast a ballot at any early voting location in their county.  You can look up early voting locations and hours in your county.

Voting on Election Day

We hope that you will vote early in 2020, either by mail or at early voting locations.  However, you may choose to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3. 

To vote in person on Election Day, you should vote at your assigned polling place.   Find your Election Day polling place through the Voter Search Tool or search using your address with the Polling Place Search. Polling places may change, so it’s smart to confirm your polling place before you go. 

In North Carolina,  polling places are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Any voter in line at 7:30 p.m. will be able to vote. 

There is no photo ID required to vote in person in North Carolina this year. 

Voting is our most fundamental right because it’s through voting that we protect all of our rights. Make a plan to vote safe and vote early!

For more information

For more non-partisan information and printable resources on voting in North Carolina, go to

Official NC elections information and guidance is available at

If you have problems or questions, call the NC non-partisan voter hotline at 888-OUR-VOTE (888-687-8683).   

IMPORTANT NOTE: Election laws and practices vary from state to state.  In North Carolina, the NC State Board of Elections (NCSBE) administers and oversees elections.  Official NC election information and guidance is available at In NC, voting by mail is called “Absentee by Mail.” Voting in person at early voting is sometimes called “One-Stop Early Voting” (because you can also register to vote) or “absentee in-person” (because you are “absent” from Election Day). Everything in this post is specific to North Carolina. To find voting information about another state, check with official elections administrators in that state: Register to Vote.

Graphic: “Vote!” by Sean Loosier is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 


DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Aylett Colston is an attorney who is committed to restoring democracy in her home state of North Carolina. She practiced corporate and securities law for over 15 years, representing technology companies in mergers, acquisitions, venture capital investments, corporate finance, and equity compensation. She now focuses on fair elections in North Carolina and serves as the Political Action Chair for the Raleigh-Apex Branch of the NAACP.

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