North Carolina voters hit the ballots ahead of Primary Elections

Anthony Wilson Image
Saturday, February 17, 2024
North Carolina voters hit the ballots ahead of March Primaries
Early voting for the March Primary is underway across North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Gusty winds had enough strength Saturday that some signs related to early voting needed extra weight to stay put. But eager voters bundled up and cast their ballots during early voting at centers in Raleigh.

Karen Brinson Bell, Executive Director of the North Carolina Board of Elections, gave ABC11 this update on early voting:

"We're really happy with the turnout that we've had so far. It's on par with 2020. We've had a number of absentee requests," she said. "It's actually up over 2020 for those wanting to vote by mail and our turnout for in-person early voting has been on par with 2020. And we're looking also at some counties that may have had more people show up than others."

"Wake County's the most populous county in the state, that's after the last census. But Mecklenburg is also very high numbers. I think there are about 4,500 folks who have voted thus far and about 5,500 have turned out in Wake County."

Bell said the turnout for Republicans and Democrats is almost even.

"Both are at about 36% turnout right now. We're not seeing any problems but we do want to make sure people are aware this is the largest election that we've had where photo ID is required. And so an individual will need to present an acceptable photo ID when they come to vote. For most, it will be a driver's license. But for many, you know, they can show a veteran's I.D., travel I.D., a student I.D. that's been approved and if they don't have a form of I.D., they can complete an exception form."

"If they forgot to bring their I.D. with them, they can vote a provisional ballot and then take that I.D. to the county board of elections within nine days of Election Day, or if they are unable to get an I.D. for some reason, there's an exception form where they can indicate that perhaps it's a religious objection or let's hope we don't have a natural disaster."

"Two things with absentee ballots. One, there is a requirement to have a copy of a photo ID in there, absentee ballot return materials or to complete an exception form that they could not make a copy. And they also must get that in by 7:30 p.m. Election Day. There is no grace period in North Carolina any longer. So if a voter wants to cast their ballot by mail, they either need to return it to the county board of elections by 7:30 p.m., ensure that the mail delivers it by then on election day or they can drop it off at one of the early voting sites between now and March 2."

"North Carolina law changed this fall, and if a ballot is received after 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, that absentee by mail ballot will not be counted. We'll save it, but it won't be put into the tabulator. It'll just be stored for our record retention processes. And if you want to vote in person, make sure that you are at an early voting site between now and March. All sites across the state will close at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 2. And then if you haven't voted, you need to turn out on Election Day between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m."

"It's usually the most active voters who turn out for primaries, and most people wait until the general election. But it's important to be a part of the nominating process. That's what a primary is. It's helping the party to know who you want to go forward in the general election. And so we're hopeful that there will be a strong turnout. There are some really important contests on the ballot beyond the presidential preference primary where we will have a new governor in North Carolina, a new attorney general, many new council of state members; members of the legislature who did not run again. Changes in our congressional districts mean new people will be serving. So it's a really important election, a primary for people to have their say in who their party's nominee will be."

"If you're already affiliated with a political party, the Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian Party, they do have primaries, and that's the ballot that you'll receive as your party's primary ballot. But if you are unaffiliated, which most North Carolinians are more than any other any political party, then when you go to vote, you'll be asked which party's primary you wish to participate in, and that's the ballot you'll be given."

"And you can only choose one. But it does not change your party affiliation. It just means that that's the party's primary you choose to participate in it.""