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Felon's Rights

North Carolina citizens who were formerly convicted of a Felon and had their rights restored can register to vote. Read about your rights below. The following information is taken directly from the NC State Board of Elections "A Misdemeanant & Ex-Felon’s Guide to Voting in North Carolina."

Steps for Misdemeanants and Persons Awaiting Trial

In North Carolina, being convicted of a misdemeanor does not mean that you lose your right to vote. You can vote while serving your misdemeanor sentence or while awaiting trial for a felony or misdemeanor. Follow the steps below so that you can vote in the next election.

Step 1: Register to Vote
  • If you are not already registered to vote, you can register to vote by using a mail-in voter registration form. You can get a form from your county board of elections office, public library, or online at www.sboe.state.nc.us.

  • On the form, it asks “where you now live.” Use the address of the place where you would live if you were not in jail. This address is the place where you intend to return after imprisonment.

  • Mail the completed form to the county board of elections in the county “where you live”. If you do not have a driver’s license, you will be asked to include part of your Social Security number. You may find your county board of elections by contacting the State Board of Elections. Contact information is on the back of this brochure. The completed form must include your physical street address so that you can be listed in the proper voting district. If you write a P.O. Box as your street address, the form will not be processed. However, a P.O. Box may be used as your mailing address.​

  • The county board of elections must receive your completed form at least 25 days before the election if you wish to vote in that election. Otherwise, you can register at any time to vote in future elections. Voter registration is permanent and you do not need to register for each election. The county board of elections will send a card to the address you listed on the form, with the name of your precinct and where you can go to vote (your “polling place”).

 
Step 2: Vote
  • If you are able, you can vote in person at your polling place on Election Day or at One-Stop voting (see below). You may also vote using an Absentee Ballot. If you are going to be incarcerated on Election Day, you can vote by mail using an absentee ballot.

  • To request an absentee ballot, you may send a signed written request to your county board of elections after you register to vote. absentee ballots are made available 50 days before the election until 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday a week before an election.

  • You can register to vote and request an absentee ballot at the same time. Be sure that your request is mailed early enough to receive, complete, and mail your registration form to your county board of elections to meet the registration deadline (no later than 25 days before elections).

  • If the county board of elections determines that you are eligible to vote, they will mail the registration form and absentee ballot to you. You may be asked to send a document showing your name and address. You may request that the ballot be mailed to any address including the jail where you are incarcerated. The ballot can also be mailed to a friend or relative and that person can bring the ballot to you. However, only you may vote the ballot. Please follow the instructions on the absentee ballot. For example, the absentee ballot must be witnessed by two persons; if not, the ballot will not be counted.

  • For 17 days starting the 3rd Thursday before each election until the Saturday before each election at 1:00 p.m., voters are allowed to vote by One-Stop absentee ballot in person at their county board of elections during regular business hours (usually 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday). Some counties might offer other One-Stop voting sites that allow you to vote at additional locations and times. Check with your local county board of elections for your One-Stop voting options.

 
Steps for Former Felons

If you are convicted of a felony in North Carolina, you temporarily lose your citizenship rights, including your right to vote. Any prior registration you had before your felony conviction is canceled by the county board of elections with no action on your part. Any attempt to register to vote while you are an active felon is a felony. However, after completing all the terms of your sentence (including parole, probation, and restitution), you do not have to do anything to have your citizenship rights restored. Those rights are automatically restored (N.C. Gen. Stat. 13-1). Registering to vote, again or for the first time, is all you will need to do before voting in the county where you reside after your discharge.

 

If you have completed all parts of your sentence for a felony conviction or have been pardoned, you are eligible to vote in North Carolina. To avoid potential difficulties with registering and voting, you should ask for your Certificate of Restoration of Forfeited Rights of Citizenship from your releasing officer (N.C. Gen. Stat. 13-2). This is not necessary to register or vote, but may make it easier should you encounter any problems.

In order to vote in North Carolina elections, follow the steps listed below:

 
Step 1: Register to Vote
  • Former convicted felons must register again to vote in your current county of residence.

  • You can register by mail using a mail-in voter registration form. You can receive this form by writing or calling your county board of elections office, visiting a public library, or downloading a form online at www.sboe.state.nc.us.

  • Mail the completed form to the county board of elections in the county “where you live”. If you do not have a driver’s license, you will be asked to include part of your Social Security number. You may find your county board of elections by contacting the State Board of Elections. The completed form must include your physical street address so that you can be listed in the proper voting district. If you use a P.O. Box as your street address, the form will not be processed. (However, a P.O. Box may be used as your mailing address.)

  • The county board of elections must receive your completed form at least 25 days before the election if you wish to vote in that election. Otherwise, you can register at any time to vote in future elections. Voter registration is permanent and you do not need to register for each election.

  • The county board of elections will send a card to the address you listed on the form, with the name of your precinct and where you can go to vote (your “polling place”).

 
Step 2: Vote
  • You can vote at the polling place listed on your voter card, a One-Stop polling site, or by absentee ballot.

  • For directions on how to vote by absentee ballot or at a One-Stop voting location, see the previous Step 2.