The Herald’s Guide to Voting: We Need Your Voice

Written By: Nicole Chedraoui 

Hey you! Yeah you! Are you registered to vote in the state of North Carolina yet? Have you simply not registered out of confusion or perhaps general disinterest? If you answered yes to either of these questions, allow me to enlighten you. Our world is currently on fire, and we need your voice now more than ever. Think about the world you want to live in, I’m guessing it’s not the one we’re in right now. Statistics show that teenagers are the least represented age group to show up to the polls. You have the power to change that by voting, and being the voice for those that can’t. By not voting, you’re inevitably giving up your voice, a voice we so desperately need right now. 

You have the power to be a catalyst for the changes you want to see in our government. I implore you to educate yourself on various topics happening around the world now, even if you’re someone who doesn’t “get into politics.”Generation Z is the voice of a new  era, and I’m here today to show you just how simple and quick it is to register, so you can help be the change. 

It may shock you to know that you don’t actually have to be 18 to register to vote; in the state of North Carolina, you can register to vote as young as 16. You can even vote in a primary election at the age of 17, if you will be 18 at the time of the general election. Many people register as young as 16 after they receive their driver’s license, using it as their general source of ID. The sooner you register, the better. If you’re using your driver’s license, the DMV will send you reminders about your registration on your 17th and 18th birthday. There are a few very basic rules that apply to voter registration. 

  1. You must be a citizen of the United States 
  2. You must be a resident of North Carolina and the precinct in which you live for at least 30 days before the Election 
  3. You may not vote if you are currently serving a felony sentence, including probation, parole, or post-release supervision. 

If none of these apply to you, then you are an eligible voter in the state of North Carolina. So now that we’ve established who can vote, let’s talk about your different options of how to vote this year. 

Option #1: Online 

In case you had forgotten, we’re unfortunately still in a global pandemic, which sadly means that going out to polling centers presents a health threat to those at high risk for catching Covid. The good news is that registering to vote online is quick and easy; it should really take no longer than 2 minutes. 

  1. First step is to open your browser and go to the website Vote.Org 
  2. When you do, you should see a link for every state in the U.S.and you should click on North Carolina. 
  3. There, you can find all the information you could possibly need about voting in NC, and you will then scroll down to the very bottom of the page to where it says register to vote in North Carolina. 
  4. Once you click on that link, it will bring you to your registration form where you will fill out your basic, essential information. 

And voila!  You, my friend, are registered to vote! 

Option #2: In person 

One of the best ways to register if you want to do it in person is by doing it through everybody’s favorite place, the DMV! You can register to vote at any Department of Motor Vehicles facility in NC, as long as you are also conducting DMV business. Examples include: 

  1. Taking your drivers permit or official drivers  license test
  2. Renewing a drivers license
  3.  Requesting a duplicate driver license

Simply make an appointment at DMV for one of the above services and register right there on the spot. So  if you’re 16 and going in for your drivers test, make sure to remember to ask to register before you leave, because it will save you a lot of time in the future. 

Option #3: By Mail 

Not only can you vote through the mail, you can also register through the mail as well. This process is just as quick and easy, and avoids the exposure of going into the DMV. 

  1. First things first you are going to want to go to the North Carolina DMV’s official Voter Registration Page 
  2. Once you get there, you’re going to want to scroll down to the section that says “Vote by Mail” 
  3. There you will find your voter registration application that needs to be filled out
  4. Next print out your form and send it to your Wake County Board of Elections office 
    1. You do this by clicking the link underneath the application link on the DMV page 
    2. This link will bring you to the state of North Carolina, and they will prompt you to pick your county (you should pick Wake) 
    3. Once you click on Wake it will come up with the address to ship your registration form too, and the offices office hours. 

Send that puppy off and you’re registered! You should receive a confirmation letter in the mail! 

Voting Time 

Before we get too close to approaching election day, make sure you have received some form of confirmation on your registration because registration ends on October 9th. However, if you are good and registered, it’s time to vote! This year voting is going to look a little different with Covid, so here are two ways you can choose from to vote this fall!

Absentee Mail in Ballots

The State of North Carolina decided to promote this form of voting–more so than in year’s past–to prevent the spread of Covid, but honestly I think voting this way seems easier. Since you are already registered all you to do is: 

  1. Go to https://www.ncsbe.gov/voting/vote-mail/absentee-ballot-tools 
  2. On this website you can fill out a form requesting a mail in ballot 
  3. From there you can print it, sign it, and either email or fax it to the same Wake County Board of Elections address I talked about above 

Reminder: The deadline for these requests are October 27th, so make sure to get them in before 5pm on October 27th. You can also go to this building (address on the official NC Board of Elections website.) The state will then start sending out absentee ballots on September 4th, note that someone else has to watch you fill it out, then sign as a witness. The last and final step of voting by mail is delivering your ballot to your County’s board of elections building, the same one you sent your registration too.  If you deliver it by hand, keep in mind you can’t turn in the form any later than 5pm on Nov 3rd, election day. 

Voting at the Polls 

I’m sure you all have seen your parents vote in prior elections, or maybe even stole their “I voted sticker,” after they walked out of the polls, so I’m fairly confident you may be somewhat familiar with how this works. Basically, early voting starts October 15th and ends on October 31st. During early voting, voters may cast a ballot at any early voting site in their county. This is different from Election Day when registered voters must vote at their assigned precinct. However if you want to vote on Election day, you must go to your assigned precinct. The eligible hours to vote on election day range from 6:30am to 7:30pm. Once you arrive, you will most likely wait in line and receive your ballot; ID is not required to vote in the state of NC. You will fill out your ballot in the individual polling booth, and just like that, you made a difference. 

This may seem like an overwhelming amount of work to do, but I promise you it’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds, and the change you can make by voting will make it all worth it. The data from the last election showed the least amount of voting participation this country has ever seen. We have to do better this year. We need to. Remember to not only vote for yourself, but vote for your community and the people in it. We hold the power. Show up. Make a difference. 

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