After seemingly endless months of campaigning, Election Day is finally here.
While about 45 percent of registered North Carolina voters have already cast their ballots through early and absentee voting, Tuesday offers ample opportunity for the other 55 percent to do their civic duty.
If you’re lucky, all those early voters will mean you won’t have to wait long in line at your neighborhood polling place.
Here’s what to know before you head to the polls Tuesday:
When are the polls open? 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Even if there’s a line as polls close, everyone who’s in line by 7:30 will be allowed to vote – but make sure you don’t leave the line. Polls are typically busiest in the morning and evening hours, so the shortest lines are likely during midday hours.
Do I need to bring an ID? No, that requirement was struck down by a federal court. You don’t need to bring anything – just be ready to state your name and address to the election worker.
How do I find my polling place? Go to the “voter/absentee lookup” button on ncsbe.gov and enter your name and address, or call your county’s Board of Elections office. The website will tell you where to vote, and it offers a handy sample ballot so you’ll know exactly what to expect when you get your real ballot. If you go to the wrong polling place, you’ll still be allowed to vote, but you’ll have to cast a provisional ballot that will be reviewed after Election Day.
Can I register to vote at the polls? No – if you didn’t vote early or register before the October deadline, you’re out of luck this year.
What sorts of activities are banned at the polls? Inside your polling place, you’ll be allowed to use your phone to look up information on the candidates, but you can’t call people, text or take pictures – so don’t even think about taking a selfie with your ballot. Campaign workers have to stay outside the polls in designated areas marked by signs, and only voters, poll workers and official political party observers are allowed inside.
The State Board of Elections has issued guidelines for polling place behavior. “Respect the right of all voters to participate in the election without fear of intimidation or violence,” the agency’s memo says. “Intimidating any voter is a state and federal crime. Remain civil and calm at all times. Arguments should not involve profanity or provocative gestures.”
If you see any violations, report them to the chief judge of the precinct.
What’s on the ballot aside from the president, governor and U.S. senator? Around North Carolina, voters will pick their representatives to Congress and the state House and Senate. Council of State positions are on the ballot, including lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, labor commissioner and others. Voters will pick a number of judges, including for N.C. Supreme Court, N.C. Court of Appeals, District Court and Superior Court.
Triangle counties will pick their county commissioners, and Wake and Johnston counties will also elect school board members.
The end of the ballot features referendum issues in several counties. Wake residents will decide on a half-cent sales tax increase to fund transit. Durham County residents will decide whether to borrow money for school, community college, library and museum projects. Orange County residents will decide whether to borrow money to build schools and low- and moderate-income housing. And Johnston County will decide whether to allow alcohol sales in unincorporated areas.
And don’t forget the always-exciting races for your county’s soil and water commissioner.