Absentee ballots are available, One Stop early voting begins soon and the November general election is just around the corner.
Now is the time to register to vote if you haven’t already and start planning for that trip to the polls.
Q: Who is eligible to vote?
To register to vote in North Carolina, a person must be at least 18 years old by Election Day and a U.S. citizen; must be a resident of the county in which they plan to vote; and must have lived at their address for at least 30 days prior to the date of election.
If you have moved, you must rescind any previous registration in another county or state and register in your county of residence.
Anyone serving a sentence for a felony conviction may vote again upon completion of their sentence, including probation or parole.
Q: When do I have to register?
It varies state by state, but most states have a deadline sometime in October. In North Carolina, the registration deadline for the 2016 General Election is Oct. 14.
However, eligible voters who miss the deadline will have a final opportunity to register during one-stop early voting with documentation of their identity and residence.
Q: How do I know if I’m registered? Do I have to register again if I voted in a previous election?
The National Association of Secretaries of State has set up a web portal for you to check if you’re registered at your current residence. Go to CanIVote.org and enter you information or go directly to the North Carolina Board of Elections website at ncsbe.gov.
You do not need to re-register if you voted in a previous election unless there has been a change in your status, such as a move to another county.
Q. Who can vote early?
One stop early voting will begin Oct. 20 and continue through Nov. 5 for voters who prefer to head to the polls before Election Day. Onslow County will have early voting sites at the Board of Elections office and the Commons Recreation Center, Swansboro Rotary Center and Verona Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. For a list of days and times, see the Onslow County Board of Elections website at onslowcountync.gov/elections.
If you can’t vote in person, any registered North Carolina voter eligible to vote in the upcoming election can request an absentee ballot. The mail out of absentee ballots began in September and can be requested from the local Board of Elections office or can be printed out using the link on the Onslow County Board of Elections home page.
Q. How do American citizens overseas vote?
According to the North Carolina Board of Elections, some residents, such as those serving in the military who are away from their permanent home on Election Day, their families, or U.S. citizens who are living abroad, have special voting rights and ways to register to vote. They can request a mail-in absentee ballot the same way that other registered voters do or they can apply to register and/or vote through programs of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Visit FVAP.gov for details.
Q. What do I need to bring to the polls?
An effort to establish new voter ID requirements in North Carolina was blocked in federal court this year, so there are no identification requirements at the polls.
Q: What if there are long lines at the polls and it looks like the polls are closing?
Stay in line. Voters in line before the polls close will still have the opportunity to vote.
Q. Will the third-party candidates be on every state’s ballot?
As of Sept. 7, Green Party candidate Jill Stein is on 42 state ballots and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is on 49 (all but Rhode Island). Independent Evan McMullin has only made it on the ballot in nine states.
The North Carolina ballot includes Democrat, Republican and Libertarian candidates.
Q: I don’t like either major party candidates. How do write-ins work?
Not all states allow it, but North Carolina does; and there is a write-in option on the November ballot.
The write-in option for presidential contests is only allowed if at least one person qualifies and is certified as a write-in candidate through the required petition process. While voters can write in whatever name they choose in the space at the polls, Mickey Mouse and Daffy Duck aren’t likely to win. Any and all names are initially counted, according the State Board of Elections; however, only a certified write-in candidate would qualify to win the election if they received the most votes.
Thom Fain of Gatehouse Media Services contributed to this report.