2016 Primary: Preparing for Election Day

This story was contributed by Brent Ducharme of the UNC Center for Civil Rights at the UNC School of Law.

Wake County, NC — As the March 15 primary approaches, recent changes in state voting law are adding an extra layer of confusion for North Carolinians navigating the path to the polls.

Here’s how you can prepare for the election on March 15, 2016.

Early Voting

Under North Carolina law, the last day to register for the March 15 primary was February 19, 2016. If you failed to register last week, you can still vote during the early voting period, which is scheduled to last from March 3 – March 12, 2016.

During early voting, you can go to an early voting site, register and vote in one stop. There is no same-day registration on Election Day (March 15). During the early voting period, registered voters can cast a ballot at any of the designated early voting sites in their county. Check the Wake County Board of Elections for information on where early voting sites are located and when they will be open.

Election Day

If you plan to vote on Election Day (March 15), you must vote at your assigned precinct. You can check your registration and find your polling place at the NC State Board of Elections website.

On March 15, 2016, the polls will be open from 6:30 am – 7:30 pm.

Instructions for All Voters

All voters will be asked to present a photo ID. Acceptable photo IDs include a North Carolina driver’s license or other DMV-issued photo ID, a U.S. passport, a U.S. military ID card or a tribal enrollment card. The address listed on the photo ID does not need to match the address on a voter’s registration. However, school-issued student IDs will not be accepted.


Voters who arrive to the polls without an acceptable ID can still cast a provisional ballot.

Provisional ballots, and accompanying declaration forms that explain why a voter does not have a photo ID, will be available at all voting sites. Voters casting provisional ballots must also either provide their birthdate and the last four digits of their Social Security Number on the declaration form or present a voter registration card, bank statement, utility bill, or government document with their name and address on it.

Your Vote Counts

Remember these important points and exercise your constitutional right to vote:

  • If you didn’t register before February 19 and you want to vote, you must vote during the early voting period, from March 3 – March 12, 2016.
  • Vote early if possible at any early voting location in your county, but, on Election Day go your assigned polling place.
  • Bring your photo ID. Even if you don’t have one, you can still vote!


Voters with questions or concerns can call the national Election Protection hotline at 888-OUR-VOTE (888-687-8683). The hotline is available during early voting and will be staffed by volunteer attorneys and trained UNC Law students on Election Day.

Story by Brent Ducharme, Attorney-Fellow with the UNC Center for Civil Rights. Photo by Keith Ivey.