Absentee voting begins for the 2024 Primary election

Published 10:37 am Friday, January 19, 2024

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Raleigh, N.C. — On Friday, Jan. 19, North Carolina’s 100 county boards of elections will begin sending absentee-by-mail ballots to registered voters who requested a ballot for the 2024 primary election.

This marks the start of voting for North Carolina’s March 5 primary election. Voters who have already requested absentee-by-mail ballots should receive them in the coming days. In North Carolina, any eligible voter can request, receive, and vote an absentee ballot by mail. Find more information at Vote By Mail.

“Absentee-by-mail voting in the 2024 primary election officially begins Friday in North Carolina,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “We encourage all eligible primary voters to plan how, when, and where you will cast your ballot, and to make sure you have an acceptable form of photo ID for voting. If you need photo identification, you can get a photo ID for free from your county board of elections office or your local DMV.”

Through early Thursday, more than 5,000 voters had requested primary ballots across the state.

The absentee ballot request deadline is Tuesday, Feb. 27. Election officials urge voters who wish to vote by mail to request their ballot as early as possible to ensure there is time to receive it and then send it back to their county board of elections so that it is received no later than 7:30 p.m. on Election Day – March 5. State law previously provided for a grace period if your ballot was postmarked on or before Election Day and received up to three days after the election. That is no longer the case. The ballot must be at the county board office, not in the mail, by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.

In the primary election, voters will select nominees for a political party to move on to the Nov. 5 general election. In primaries, voters affiliated with a political party will be given a ballot of candidates for their party. Unaffiliated voters may choose the ballot of any one party that has a primary (Democratic, Libertarian, or Republican) or a nonpartisan ballot, if available in their jurisdiction. The Green Party and No Labels Party do not have NC primaries in 2024. More information: Upcoming Election.

Sample Ballots

Sample ballots are available for individual voters by locating their voter record in the State Board of Elections’ Voter Search. Scroll down to the “Your Sample Ballot” section and click on the link(s). Note: Unaffiliated voters will have at least three ballot styles listed. When requesting an absentee ballot or presenting to vote in person, unaffiliated voters will choose which ballot they wish to vote.

Witness/ID Requirements

By-mail voters must have two individuals or a notary witness that the voter completed their ballot. The witnesses must sign the ballot return envelope, where indicated. By-mail voters also will be asked to place a photocopy of an acceptable photo ID in the sleeve on the back of their ballot envelope. The photocopy does not have to be a color copy, but election officials must be able to read it. Absentee voters who are unable to provide a copy of a photo ID should complete the Photo ID Exception Form that is included with their absentee ballot materials, and place that form in the sleeve indicated for photo ID.

2024 Primary Dates and Deadlines

Here are key dates and deadlines for the 2024 primary election in North Carolina:

  • Jan. 19: County boards of elections begin mailing absentee ballots to eligible voters who have submitted an absentee ballot request
  • Feb. 9: Voter registration deadline (5 p.m.)*
  • Feb. 15: In-person early voting begins; same-day voter registration available
  • Feb. 27: Absentee ballot request deadline (5 p.m.)*
  • March 2: In-person early voting ends (3 p.m.)
  • March 5: Primary Election Day
  • March 5: Absentee ballot return deadline (7:30 p.m.)*
  • March 15: County boards of elections primary canvass meetings (11 a.m.)
  • March 26: State Board of Elections primary canvass meeting (11 a.m.)

*Voter registration and absentee voting deadlines are different for military and overseas citizen voters.