Student Voter Guide for North Carolina’s 2020 Presidential Primary Election

This guide will help you participate in North Carolina’s March 3 primary, in which you can help choose America’s presidential nominees and nominees for other positions.

If you’re registered with a political party in North Carolina, you can only vote in that party’s primary. If you’re registered as unaffiliated, you can vote in the Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian primary. See for where to vote. 

Dates and Deadlines 

  • Primary election date: March 3, 2020, 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM
  • Regular voter registration deadline: February 7 
  • Last day to request an absentee-by-mail ballot: February 25 by 5 PM
  • One-stop (in-person) early voting period: February 13 to February 29. (During the early voting period, eligible individuals who missed the regular voter registration deadline may register and vote at the same time.)

Why this primary matters

You have a chance to determine the presidential nominees for the two major political parties and some third parties, along with candidates for Senate, Governor, Congress, and state legislature. As part of Super Tuesday, the North Carolina primary plays an important role. Even if your first choice doesn’t win, your votes can influence the stands of the candidates who do.

For Democratic presidential candidates, delegates are allocated proportionately to anyone getting 15% or more of the vote. Republican delegates are distributed by a combination of the highest vote getters in each congressional district and the proportionate vote of candidates getting 20% or more statewide.  

Candidate information

For Republican and Democratic Presidential candidate websites, CNN has a complete list. Politico also has a quick guide to Democratic candidate positions.


To be eligible to vote in North Carolina, you:

  • Must be a citizen of the United States.
  • Must live in the county of your registration, and have resided there for at least 30 days prior to the date of the election. 
  • Must be at least 18 years old. (You can submit a registration form up to two years before your 18th birthday, if you will be 18 on November 3, 2020.)
  • Must not be serving a sentence for a felony conviction and must have completed any felony probation or parole before you register.  

How to register to vote

In order to register to vote in North Carolina, you must meet the legal qualifications to vote and complete a voter registration application. When completing the application, you must provide: 

  • Your full legal name
  • Residential address
  • Date of birth
  • Citizenship status 

In addition, the paper application must be signed in pen. Mail or deliver in person your completed application to your county board of elections office.

ID Requirements for registering 

Same-day registrants (during the one-stop early voting period) can prove their North Carolina residence by showing ID with current name and address and giving their driver’s license number or last four digits of their Social Security number. Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • North Carolina driver’s license
  • Other photo identification issued by a government agency
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document showing the voter’s name and address
  • A current college/university photo identification card. This can be paired with a current roster prepared by the college/university and transmitted to the county board of elections office, which lists all students residing in campus housing facilities. Or it can be paired with correspondence, invoice, transcript, or a print-out or screen shot from any official registration or housing portal displaying the student’s name and on-campus housing address.

ID Requirements for voting 

As of a December 31, 2019 court order, photo ID is not required for voting in the March 3 primary. Check with the Board of Elections for any voter ID updates.

Absentee ballots

To request an absentee ballot, complete the State Absentee Ballot Request Form and either deliver it or mail it to your county board of elections office, so that it is received by February 25 at 5 PM. The completed absentee ballot must be delivered to your county board of elections office by 5 PM on March 3, or be postmarked by March 3 and received by mail no later than 5 PM on March 6.

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. 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
  • Affect your in-state or out-of-state tuition status as an in-state or  out- of-state student.

Key Resources