By Jenn Frye, Democracy NC
North Carolina’s early voting period ended on Saturday, and millions of voters have already cast a ballot for the candidates of their choice.
Tomorrow is Election Day (Tuesday, November 8) and your final opportunity to make your voice heard and your vote count in 2016. And the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Not only is North Carolina a swing state in this hotly-contested Presidential Election — since 2008, Presidential contests here have been decided by a handful of votes per precinct — it is home to a full roster of downballot races, from Council of State, to district courts, to local bonds.
As exciting as this hot presidential election and full ballots may be, this election matters far beyond the high-profile races that have defined it. North Carolina is not just an election battleground; it is a battleground for the very heart of our democracy. Our changing electorate and the fight over voting rights and redistricting here demonstrate just how much voting matters.
Don’t sit this one out. Your vote matters. Every election matters.
At Democracy North Carolina, we work 365 days of the year to expand access for all voters and restore confidence in our democracy.During every election, we help voters navigate the process and address their concerns.
Here are 10 tips to make voting on Election Day easier:
- You do not need to show a photo ID to vote.
- On Election Day, vote at the polling place in your assigned precinct. Early voting sites and Election Day precincts are often different locations. You can find how to view your specific polling place at ncvoter.org. If necessary, you may vote at any polling place in your county on Election Day, but your choices will only count for the items that also appear on your home precinct’s ballot. Some items, such as a particular district race, may not appear on another precinct’s ballot.
- Lines to vote are generally shortest in the mid-morning or early afternoon.
- Because of the many state and local races or bonds on ballots this election, you should preview your ballot before voting. You can learn how at ncvoter.org.
- Cell phones are now allowed in the polls. You can use your cell phone to help remember your choices for this year’s long ballot. You may not talk on your cell phone or take pictures inside the polling place, including selfies and photos of your ballot. No photos are allowed inside the polls!
- North Carolina no longer has “straight-party” or “straight-ticket” voting. Voters must mark their choice in each race individually. Remember, your ballot’s finished until you flip it over and vote in all the races!
- You may wear a button, hat, or shirt with a candidate’s name as you quietly vote, but you may not actively draw attention to your choices.
- Felons convicted in any state may register and vote in North Carolina after serving their sentence, including probation or parole. No special document is needed. If you have an outstanding warrant, bankruptcy, traffic ticket, civil fine, or misdemeanor conviction, you can still vote.
- If your name doesn’t appear on the registration rolls or you have any problem when you vote, you should be offered a provisional ballot – and a toll-free number or website to learn if the ballot was counted or, if not, the reason why.
- A near family member may help you vote. Voters with a disability or reading hardship may get help from anyone except their employer or union agent.
If you have questions about voting, have problems at the polls, or see suspicious activity, call Democracy NC’s voter hotline at 888-OUR-VOTE.
Jenn Frye is the associate director of Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan center that promotes voter participation and fair elections.