May Primary - Voter Protection Advice

Will your vote count in 2008? What steps should you take to protect your vote? The NC Coalition for Verified Voting has some important tips to ensure that your vote counts in the May Primary.

North Carolina is in pretty good shape in most counties regarding the voting machines, but in the touch screen counties, if there are problems with the voting machines, your vote could be affected. In many cases, the voter should ask for a different machine and have the malfunctioning one removed from service. Now that we are so close to the elections, we must focus on voter registration.

Make Sure You Are Registered to Vote and That Your Vote Counts

Voter's Guide for the May 2008 Primary here (printable version here)

1. Check to make sure that you are registered, and or that you haven't fallen off the voting rolls.

2. Register to vote either by mail, at govt agencies, or at the DMV - do this 25 days prior to the election. For the May 6, 2008 – Primary Election Day the Deadline to register: April 11, 2008

3. Register to Vote during the One Stop Absentee Voting time period (if you missed the 25 day deadline)
One Stop Absentee Voting for the May 6th primary is: Apr. 17 - May 3
Find out more here:

4. Voters who have moved need to have their registration corrected:

a. When you move within a county, you should complete an in-county change of address. This can be completed on your voter identification card, a signed letter to your local board of elections or on the form specified here.
Contact your county BOE for help.

b. If you have moved from one county to another, you need to re-register to vote.
See this link for more detail on what you need to do.

5. If you plan to vote on election day, then you must go to your assigned polling place, which is listed on your voter registration card. You can look up your polling place here

6. If you vote early, then you can vote at any one stop site in your county.

7. First time voters must bring identification. First-time voters who registered by mail or at a voter registration drive after January 1, 2003, may be asked to show identification. Take along any valid photo I.D., a utility bill, or government document addressed to you when you vote. Even if you aren't a first time voter, it helps to bring ID.

8. Unaffiliated voters may vote in either the Democratic or Republican Primary according to the NC State Board of Elections. State law leaves this up to the political parties to decide for each election.

9. Voters can help protect elections by volunteering to work at the polling places. There is no better way to ensure that votes count than by being part of the process. Contact your county Board of Elections to volunteer. Learn more about being a poll worker.

For more information, see our webpage on Voting in North Carolina

Do Your Best to Get a Regular Ballot and Not a Provisional Ballot


The big concern at this time of the year should be to make sure that voters get to vote and vote a regular valid ballot. You want to avoid getting a provisional ballot if possible because it has less chance of being counted. In the 2006 general election in North Carolina, about 35% of provisional ballots were rejected.

Provisional ballots are "conditional" ballots issued to voters and might not count. Provisional ballots are issued to voters who have some sort of voter registration problem or who have shown up at the wrong polling place. Another problem is where voters' registration applications are rejected because of failure to match government databases. Often the failure to match is due to clerical errors, name changes due to marriage or problems with the database itself. Sadly, many provisional ballots are not counted on election day

We expect the number of provisional ballots to decrease thanks to amendments made to state election law.

In August 2007, the General Assembly scrapped an existing policy rejecting new voter registrations from citizens if even a single letter of their personal information on their registration card did not match their personal information in state motor vehicle and Social Security databases.


Provisional ballots are important way to protect the vote

I wouldn't tell people that they want to avoid provisional ballots. Instead, we need to educate people how this can be an important back up in the event that there has been a mistake with their voter registration.

In the world before provisional ballots, voters whose name didn't appear on the rolls through a clerical error would be disenfranchised. Now, by casting a provisional ballot, those people are enfranchised. And indeed a majority of these votes are counted that in the past would have not been allowed.

So yes, you'd rather vote in the normal way but casting a provisional is a safe back up in the event that any number of things have gone wrong.

40% of provisional ballots in NC REJECTED

If people will follow the advice I provided in the OP, they can avoid a provisional ballot, a placebo ballot which has a 60% chance of being counted..

Provisional Ballots Cast and Counted in November 2006 in NC:

we had 92,621 provisional voters, or 4.55 % of total turnout of 2,036,451.

55,775 provisional ballots, or 60% were counted, or 2.74% of total turnout.

30,307 provisional ballots, or 40 % were rejected, or 1.49 % of total turnout

Just by checking to see if and where you are registered to vote can make all the difference.

Going to the right polling place makes a difference.

Dont accept a provisional ballot when you can just drive to the right place to vote.

I am sooo happy that I live in a small county

Went to the board of elections the other day. Workers were nice and friendly. No one was in line ahead of me. In fact, there is not a method to form a line! No room for the line.

Validated my voting information, I'm good to go. All should do that if you can.

With provisional ballots, Al Gore would have won FL

The point is that provisional ballots are a great last chance for a voter who would have been otherwise disenfranchised.

I agree - IF people can get a regialar ballot, they should. The way you're writing this though, you aren't qualifying that provisional ballots are a backup to protect your vote, NOT to disenfranchise you. I worry that you are driving home a message that people should not accept provisionals when these are an important voter right. Had provisionals been available to the hundreds of voters in Florida in 2000 who were documented as being turned away from polls in 2000, George Bush would probably not be our President.

The reason that 40% of provisionals are not counted is probably voter error - i.e. they are not actually registered to vote, they moved and did not re-register, etc. I've done plenty of GOTV work in NC and I can tell you there are a significant number of people who forget to register.

If your provisional ballot is not allowed, you get to find out why and challenge the result if you want. You're looking at the wrong number with provisional ballots - you're looking at how many ballots were not allowed. Without provisional ballots, those still would not be allowed because the voter never would ahve cast a vote. But over 55,000 voters were enfranchised thanks to provisionals.

You have a valid point, people should get the regular ballot if possible. Like you said mistakes happen. What if you check you registration and you go to the right polling place but the BOE screwed up somehow. As long as you were legally registered, your vote is almost certainly going to be counted with a provisional. But we need to explain how provisionals can save your vote too, rahter than scare people away from this voter protection.

On Moving

North Carolina law does allow you to live in one place and remain registered where you consider home. Owning a burial plot in that area, getting the local newspaper or being a member of the local church has been considered sufficient evidence by the elections board.

But if you're not dead-set on voting in your "home" district, I'd suggest just registering where you live. It is possible, however, to do it wherever you have home ties.


if you arrive at a polling place and are not allowed to vote, then by all means, get a provisional ballot.

Show up with proof or residency, proof of who you are. With that, you should be allowed a provisional.

If you walk away without casting a vote, shame on you. It might require a little bit of time on your part, but your there already.

Provisional ballots are nice and would seem to be insurance against disenfranchisement upon anyone.

Waiting for tomorrow to tell your story is to late. Yes, someone might get in trouble, but your voice is not heard.

With that what exactly do you need to satisfy even the biggest rock with lips errrrr, volunteer, at a polling place to get a provisional ballot? I do not know, I would assume proof of residency and proof of who you are. Am I wrong? Probably am...... But if you do not ask the question, it wont get answered will it? If you dont ask for a provisional, you wont get one!