Voting outside of Election Day has gradually become a more popular way of casting your ballot for any given election, and it’s not terribly hard to see why. As it pertains to the upcoming October 10th primaries (and November 7th general election) in Durham, North Carolina, early voting offers voters a bevy of unique benefits and conveniences in lieu of waiting in line in person on Election Day.
Early voting is a great way to reduce the stress and anxiety many report feeling around Election Day, and with good reason – the advantages of early voting allow you, the voter, to really take your time with your research, your selections, and with the process of voting itself. As the October 10th elections in Durham, North Carolina draw nearer, there’s never been a better time to get up to speed on the benefits and convenience of early voting.
The following article will serve as a Durham early voting guide, covering all aspects of voting before Election Day, including the benefits of early voting, early voting locations, early voting eligibility, and all of the on-hand info you’ll need to make your vote count early.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Before we dive into the process of figuring out how to cast your ballot early, and all the eligibility requirements that go alongside it (hint: there’s not that many), let’s make sure we’re starting off on the same foot: what is early voting?
Well, it’s exactly what it says on the tin. Early voting means filling out your ballot selections and either mailing them in or dropping them off at a designated ballot drop-off location. Many voters elect to cast their ballots early so that they don’t feel pressure to cram in voting in person on Election Day into their already busy schedules. Some voters can’t even take off work to vote on Election Day, and early voting is an enormously helpful means of getting more voters participating in the democratic process than otherwise would be able to if confined to just one single day.
How do you know if you’re eligible to vote early, however? It’s actually more simple than you might think: if you are registered to vote in Durham, North Carolina, then congratulations! You’re also eligible to vote early, ahead of the October 10th elections.
It’s really that simple.
So what are the requirements for registering to vote? The North Carolina State Board of Electors lays it out in very simple, direct language on their website:
You must be a U.S. citizen
Live in the county you are registering in for at least 30 days prior to voter registration
Be 18 years of age. (Note: 16 and 17 year olds can pre-register to vote, and 17 year olds may cast primary ballots if they will turn 18 by the general election)
Not be serving a felony sentence, including any period of probation, post-release supervision, or parole
And that’s it!
Check your voter registration status here, and if you aren’t registered make sure to do so as soon as you can! North Carolina also offers Same-Day Registration alongside online registration, which means you can show up to any of North Carolina’s designated polling places and register to vote in person, then and there. For more information on all things regarding the process of registering to vote in Durham, North Carolina, check out Good Party’s comprehensive voter registration guide here.
Why vote ahead of Election Day? What do you get out of it as the voter? In short – a lot. And it ultimately boils down to two core advantages that early voting has over voting on Election Day: time, and space.
Time and space? Yes, you read that right. Early voting allows you more time to cast your ballot, and you can cast your ballot at any of Durham’s early voting polling places – not simply your assigned polling place for in-person voting on Election Day.
In Durham, North Carolina, there are two separate Early Voting periods – one for the primary election on October 10th, and another for the general municipal election on November 7th. So to answer the question of when does early voting start in Durham, North Carolina, we’ve broken it down for you:
The early voting period for the primary elections on October 10th is September 21st - October 7th.
The early voting period for the general municipal election on November 7th is October 19th - November 4th.
Furthermore, as those links from the Durham County Board of Electors stipulate, there are different windows of time during which you can vote early, whether in person or by dropping off or mailing in your ballot. Here’s the breakdown of those specific time windows:
Primary election early voting (September 21st - October 7th, 2023):
Monday - Friday: 8:30am - 6:00pm
Saturday (September 23rd & September 30th): 8:30am - 1:00pm
Sunday (September 24th & October 1st): 12:00pm - 4:00pm
Saturday (October 7th): 8:00am - 3:00pm
General municipal election early voting (October 19th - November 4th, 2023):
Monday - Friday: 8:30am - 6:00pm
Saturday (October 21st & October 28th): 8:30am - 1:00pm
Sunday (October 22nd & October 29th): 12:00pm - 4:00pm
Saturday (November 4th): 8:00am - 3:00pm
These are the timeframes during which any registered voter can complete an Early Voting ballot in Durham, North Carolina and have their vote count. With that in mind, however, you may be asking yourself: where do I cast my early ballot? There’s essentially two answers to this question:
You can cast an early vote in person at any polling place in Durham County. You can also find your specific polling place (i.e., the only polling place you can cast a vote on Election Day itself) by using this link.
You can fill out an Early Vote-By-Mail ballot by following this link (also, refer to Good Party’s comprehensive guide on Absentee Voting in Durham, NC for more information on voting by mail!)
When we combine all of the special benefits and advantages of early voting, it becomes clear why it’s such an important and effective method of participating in democracy. Not only does each voter have a massively extended window of time that they can more carefully schedule out when to vote – thus allowing them to research and consider their options at their own pace and removing the common stressors of Election Day voting – it also allows voters who would otherwise be unable to vote on Election Day to have their voices heard. Some workers simply cannot get out of work to vote on Election Day. Others may be caring for sick relatives or out of state on Election Day itself, and their voice deserves to be heard in government just as much as anyone’s. Early voting allows that to happen.
Also, the fact that you can vote from any polling place in Durham County instead of just your one specific assigned location for Election Day voting removes a lot of logistical barriers for people to vote – if you elect to vote early, you could cast your vote from a polling place right by your place of work, for example, that might not be your assigned Election Day polling place. A relatively small change like this that makes it more convenient for people to cast their vote can have a huge impact in terms of voter turnout.
It also means shorter lines on Election Day itself! The more people vote early, the fewer voters need to wait in line at their polling places on Election Day itself, which means early voting actually makes Election Day voting itself easier and more convenient. It’s probably the closest thing to a genuine win-win that exists in politics today.
We hope this guide has helpfully illustrated the many benefits of early voting in Durham, North Carolina, explained why early voting as an option is important, and laid out the basic step-by-step guide to casting an early ballot. For further reading on everything you need to know ahead of Durham’s October 10th primary elections, be sure to check out Good Party’s Durham, North Carolina Voting Guide for 2023.