With the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the end of same-day voter registration in North Carolina, Friday is the final deadline to register for the Nov. 4 election.
The state has for years allowed voters to register during the early voting period and cast a ballot in the same visit. But the N.C. General Assembly approved election changes in 2013 that end the practice, a move opponents say will reduce voter participation.
With the status of the law in legal limbo, phone lines at the Wake County Board of Elections were jammed much of Thursday with voters seeking answers about the registration process.
Wake elections director Cherie Poucher says her office has been receiving 1,000 to 3,000 forms per day. “I’m comparing it to a presidential election with the number of groups out doing voter drives,” she said. “I don’t think we anticipated being this many forms behind.”
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Poucher said the processing backlog stands at 10,000 registrations, and her staff is working nights and weekends to catch up before early voting begins Oct. 23.
Want your vote counted on everything from the Kay Hagan-Thom Tillis Senate race to equally thrilling contests like soil and water commissioner? Here’s what you need to know:
When’s the deadline? 5 p.m. Friday, but if you’re sending the form via snail mail, it just needs to have Friday’s postmark.
Where can I get the form? Go online to ncsbe.gov, then click on “voter registration form” under the “resources” heading. County board of elections offices also have copies available, and so do many libraries.
Can’t I just do this online? Nope. The board of elections needs the original copy with your signature – so mail or hand delivery is your only option.
What if I can’t find a stamp? You’d better get to the post office before they close, or pay a visit to your county board of elections offices. In Wake, it’s on the ground floor of the old courthouse, on the Salisbury Street side. Wake County libraries also can accept the forms until 5 p.m. if you don’t want to drive downtown. In Durham, hit up the first floor of the Durham County Judicial Annex building on Roxboro Street. Orange County residents go to the 208 S. Cameron St. in Hillsborough. And in Johnston, the board’s office is on South Second Street, Smithfield, next to Bolton’s Florist.
Do I need a photo ID? Not yet – that requirement doesn’t kick in until 2016. The registration form does ask for a driver’s license number, but if you don’t have one you can attach a copy of a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or other government document showing your name and address.
I can’t remember if my registration is current. The state’s website, ncsbe.gov, has a voter look-up feature where you can check. It’s also a handy spot to download a sample ballot so you’ll know in advance how many obscure judges to select.
What about provisional ballots? Under the new law, they won’t be accepted if you go to the wrong polling place. But they’re still allowed if you’ve moved within your county and you go to an early voting site, your old polling place or your new polling place. But if you moved between counties, you’ll be out of luck after Friday.
When can I actually vote? Early voting runs from Oct. 23 to Nov. 1. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4.