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Important Things to Know About Early Voting in 2022

Students register to vote at a registration table on the Plaza.
Students register to vote at a registration table on the Plaza.

Early voting sites open Thursday throughout North Carolina — providing you with an opportunity to avoid long lines on Election Day, change your voting address within the same county or even register to vote, if needed.

In Durham, early voting sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays; and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. The last day of early voting is Saturday, Nov. 5, when sites will close at 3 p.m.

There is a Lyft discount for Duke community voters to preload before Election Day, Nov. 8, to get to the polls.

For more information on early voting, visit the NC Board of Elections website. Complete information on voting can also be found on the Duke Votes website.

Before heading to the polls, here are the essential things to know about early voting:

1. Duke has an early voting site located at Duke University Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center, 2080 Duke University Road.

Anyone who has been a resident of Durham County for at least 30 days prior to election day on Nov. 8 is eligible to vote at Karsh Alumni Center, including Duke students, staff and faculty. The Center is close to West Campus, making it an easy walk for most people working or learning on campus. There is also free parking provided directly outside of the Center.

It's best to vote mid-morning and mid-afternoons during the work week to avoid lines. The busiest early voting days tend to be the first and last days of early voting. Knowing your candidate choices in advance can make the voting process go more quickly. You can look up your sample ballot on the NC Board of Elections website using the Voter Search tool.

If another local site would be more convenient for you, this Durham County Board of Elections map shows all county early voting sites as well as their average wait times. If you are a resident of another county, multiple early voting sites are available in WakeOrange, Person, and Alamance counties.  You can also look up all county early polling locations on the state Board of Elections website. 

Remember: if you choose to wait until Election Day on Nov. 8, you must vote at your regular voting precinct.


2. You can register and vote at the same time at all early voting sites.

Did you miss the Oct. 14 deadline for regular voter registration? If so, here’s good news: It’s not too late to register to vote. Same-day registration and voting is available on campus at Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center, along with other early voting locations. To register to vote at an early voting site you must be eligible to vote and provide proof of residency, and will be required to fill out a North Carolina Voter Registration Application.

Same-day registrants must attest to their eligibility and provide proof of where they live. A voter attests to their eligibility by completing and signing the North Carolina voter registration application (available in English or Spanish). The voter must prove their residence by showing any of the following documents with their current name and address:

  • North Carolina driver’s license.
  • Other photo identification issued by a government agency. Any government-issued photo ID is acceptable, provided that the card includes the voter’s current name and address.
  • 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 paired with proof of campus habitation. For additional guidance on acceptable proof of residence for college students, visit Registering as a College Student: During Early Voting.

During early voting you may also update your name and address within the same county, if needed. You will not be able to register to vote or change your voter registration on Election Day.

For more information, review these complete voter registration rules in North Carolina or same-day registration guidelines.


3. You must follow all polling place rules when you vote.

North Carolina law prohibits voters from taking photos or videos inside the voting enclosure — meaning no “I Voted” selfies with your ballot are allowed. You may bring your phone inside the voting booth, but you are not allowed to communicate with anyone via talk, text, email if you do. You are allowed to bring print voting guides or endorsement slates in with you and you can use an electronic device to access a slate card or candidate information so long as you do not use your device to communicate with anyone.

In addition, whether voting early or on election day, NC law prohibits political activity within a buffer zone that usually extends 50 feet out from the entrance to the polling place.

The related law governing apparel, such as hats or t-shirts with political statements on them, is more complicated. You may enter a polling place to vote wearing political items so long as you proceed to vote in an orderly and timely manner and refrain from attempting to electioneer within the voting place.

If you violate this prohibition, you will be warned and, if necessary, asked to leave the polling place. However, because the definition of “electioneering” is sometimes a judgment call, and disputes can have a negative impact on voter safety, it is probably best to leave all political apparel at home. Read the NC law in full at the NC General Statues website.


4. You can still vote by absentee ballot — and have the option of dropping your ballot off at an early voting site.

If you have already requested an absentee ballot, you may drop it off at any early voting site in person, either for yourself or a close relative, but you will have to wait in line with on-site voters to do so.

If you do not drop your absentee ballot off at an early voting site, you can return it to your local board of elections or a designated drop-off site by 5 p.m. on election day. Remember that you must return your absentee ballot in the county in which you are registered to vote. You can also mail or deliver your ballot via UPS, FedEx or DHL, as long as it’s postmarked by 5 p.m. on Election Day and received by Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. Ballots without a postmark must be received by Election Day. Be sure to use the return envelope provided with your absentee ballot when you turn it in.

It’s also not too late to request an absentee ballot. You have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1 to request an absentee ballot. You can easily fill out an absentee ballot request form online. When filling out your absentee ballot, one notary public or two witnesses must be in your presence when you mark your absentee ballot. They should only observe you marking your ballot, not how you vote.You can make sure your absentee ballot was received by using Ballottrax, which is an absentee ballot tracking site operated by the N.C. State Board of Elections.

Note: Even if you have already requested an absentee ballot, you can still opt to vote in-person during early voting or on election day so long as you have not already voted by absentee ballot. In addition, if your absentee ballot is rejected for any reason, you can go ahead and vote in-person instead. Get more information on absentee voting in NC on the Board of Elections website.


5. Voting in North Carolina is secure

No election system or voting system in the state has ever been the target of a successful cyberattack. Learn more about election security in the state.