Student Voter Guide for North Carolina’s 2018 Primary Election

Why primaries matter

Primary elections determine which candidates will appear on the November ballot for each of the two major political parties, and sometimes for third parties. So they’re your prime chance to choose the eventual candidates. Even if your first choice doesn’t win, your votes can also influence the stands of the candidates who do.

Primaries replaced a system where candidates were chosen by party leaders or participants in party caucuses. They more accurately reflect our democracy by letting the general public select the candidates.

The Importance of Mid-Terms

In November 2018, voters will participate in a mid-term election, or one held between presidential-election years. Mid-term elections can be an important opportunity to express support or dissatisfaction with a president’s performance and policies. 2018 primaries will include candidate nominations for 34 U.S. Senate seats, all 435 U.S. Representative seats, plus governors, other statewide officials, and state legislative seats.

Who can vote in a primary election?


You are eligible to vote in North Carolina if you are a U.S. citizen, a resident of North Carolina (includes out of state college students), live in the precinct where you vote for at least 30 days prior to the election, and are at least 18 years old by election day.  Lawful permanent residents, commonly referred to as “green card holders” are not eligible to vote.

ID Requirements for registering – provide one of the following:

  • North Carolina voter registration number (if known)
  • North Carolina driver’s license or state non-driver number
  • The last four digits of your social security number
  • A copy of one of the documents listed on the election website (passport, utility bill, bank statement, etc.)

ID requirements for voting

North Carolina voters do not have to present a photo ID to vote. However, you may be required to show an ID if you are a first-time North Carolina voter or your registration was incomplete.

How to register

In North Carolina you can register by mail or in person at your county elections office. See Key Resources in the right sidebar of this page for online access to registration forms.

Absentee ballots

Any registered voter can request an absentee ballot and vote by mail. Contact your county election office to have a ballot mailed to you or access the request form online. Your signed and completed request form can be returned to your county board of elections office by mail, fax, email, or delivered in person.

Address to use for registering & voting

Per federal election law, college students can register and vote at either their campus address or their permanent home address, which may be out of state.   However, voters can only be registered at one address. If you are not going to physically be in the state where you plan to vote, you will need to request an absentee ballot.

It’s your choice where to register, since registering at your campus address will not:

  • Affect your federal financial aid
  • Prevent your parents from claiming you as a dependent on their taxes
  • Cost you any scholarships, unless they’re tied to specific residency requirements
  • Or affect your tuition status as an in-state or out-of-state student.

Additional information

For more detailed student voting guides, visit Campus Vote Project




  • April 13: Registration
  • May 1: Absentee ballot request received by your county board of elections office
  • May 8: Absentee ballot returned to county board of elections office
  • April 19 – May 5: Early voting
  • May 8: Primary Election



  • Semi-closed primary: voters who are registered as a member of a political party may only vote that party’s primary ballot (including any non-partisan races). If you are registered as an Unaffiliated voter and want to vote in a partisan Primary, you can ask for a Republican, Democratic, Libertarian or Nonpartisan ballot. Your choice does not change your Unaffiliated status or obligate you to vote for a party’s candidates in the General Election.