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The Daily Tar Heel

Op-ed: How to vote in North Carolina's presidential primary


North Carolina will have its presidential, state and local primary elections on March 5 where voters choose the party nominees for the November general election. There are a lot of fast approaching deadlines coming up for those wanting to vote. First advice: your one-stop shop for information is the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) website at

Feb. 9 is the regular voter registration deadline. You can check or update your voter registration at If you have a North Carolina Driver License or NCDMV non-operator ID, there is a link to go to the NCDMV website to register online or update your current voter registration address. Alternatively, whether or not you have an NCDL, there is a link to print out a paper voter registration form to mail in. Paper forms are also usually available at the front desk of Davis Library and at the student government suite in the Carolina Union. Generally, students living in Orange County (including on campus) who are US citizens 18 years of age can register to vote in Orange County.

Alternatively, any North Carolina voter can vote by mail, and you can apply online for an absentee ballot until Feb. 27. 

Voters can choose to vote early by heading to any of the six early voting sites. These sites are open from Feb. 15 to March 2. On weekdays they are open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and weekend hours vary. The Chapel of the Cross on East Franklin St, Carrboro Town Hall and Chapel Hill Public Library are early voting sites. Voter registration is also available onsite at early voting. For students living in university housing, early voting officials have a dormitory roster to verify your address, and officials will assist you with your registration.

Off-campus students wanting to register in Orange County at early voting must show a document with their current address, such as a utility bill, and may find it easier to register by Feb 9. Persons already registered in Orange County needing to update their address within the county can do that easily at early voting.

In the primary election, Democratic, Republican and Libertarian voters will get their party ballot and unaffiliated voters will choose which ballot they want when checking in to vote. Unaffiliated voters voting by mail need to choose a party primary ballot on their application form.

Voters must show photo ID to vote. A North Carolina Driver License is acceptable, but Carolina students, faculty and staff may instead show their plastic One Card.

If you don’t vote early or by mail you can vote at your assigned polling place on March 5. All university housing is assigned to vote at the Stone Center on campus from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

- Gerry Cohen, a member of the Wake County Board of Elections and former member of the Chapel Hill Town Council.

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