BY ANN CARROLL North Carolina’s primary elections will take place on Tuesday, May 6th, and early voting will end on Saturday, May 3rd. But before you put civic duty at the bottom of your to-do list, consider this: voting is not as hard as it looks. Early voting has become increasingly popular in North Carolina. Below, I give you everything you need to know to make voting this May easy as pie.
Make sure you’re registered to vote. If you haven’t registered, you cannot vote in the primary election. Make sure you register by October 10th, 2014, to vote in the general election.
Mark your calendar. Prior to the passage of the Election Reform Law last year, North Carolina voters had a 17-day early voting period. The new law shortens that period to only 10 days. You can cast your early ballot in most North Carolina counties starting April 24th. Check your County Board of Elections website for complete information.
Statistically speaking, the shortened early voting period will significantly impact North Carolina voters, particularly African American voters. In the 2012 Presidential primary, more than 900,000 North Carolinians cast their ballots early. Researchers conclude that if just 4% of voters in the 2012 Presidential primary had showed up on Election Day instead of voting early, wait times would have more than doubled at the polls.
Leave your photo ID at home. The new voter ID law passed last year by the North Carolina General Assembly does not go into effect until 2016.
Make sure you’re voting in the proper precinct. Starting this year—thanks to the new voter ID law—NC voters must vote at polling places in their precinct. The redrawn districts look like child’s artwork, so you’ll want to confirm you’re going to the right place.
Be careful to mark your preferred candidate in each race on the ballot. The new voter ID law has eliminated straight party voting. Please share this information with your friends! I and others worry that people will mark their party ticket once out of habit, and then miss out on the opportunity to have their voices heard.
The polls will open on Election Day (May 6th) at 6:30 AM and close at 7:30 PM in North Carolina. If you’re standing in line when the polls close at 7:30 PM, you will still get to cast your ballot.
Please take the time to vote! Aside from firmly believing in the voting process and its importance, I vote because I want to set an example for my daughters. It will take you 10 minutes to learn enough about the candidates to form an opinion (if you don’t have one already) and another 10 minutes to vote if you take advantage of early voting. That’s less time than it takes to watch an episode of Scandal—and the impact of having your voice heard will last way longer than your shock over whatever happens next to Olivia Pope.
Here are some other resources to help you navigate the election process:
- Check your voter registration.
- Find out more about your candidates.
- Get information about how to obtain an absentee ballot. You must submit a form to your County Board of Elections no later than 5:00 PM on April 29th.
- Download a one-pager about the new changes in voting.