Election 2020: Knowing your North Carolina voter rights

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is helping make sure voters know their rights this election season.

“Given the pandemic, this election will be unlike any other as we balance the importance of the vote with people’s health and safety,” Stein said in a news release. “Eligible voters should be confident that whether they prefer to vote by mail or in person during early vote or on Election Day, they can do so easily, safely and securely.”


Know your rights

Eligible voters in North Carolina should know that no person can stop them from legally voting. Voter intimidation by any person is illegal. A political candidate’s supporters cannot show up unofficially at polling places to watch voters cast their ballots.

If you feel your right to vote is being threatened by anyone, notify the precinct chief judge or if you’re concerned about your personal safety, contact the police.

At a polling place, you may not:

  • Go to the polls and watch unless you are an official election observer designated by the county party chair.
  • Observe, interfere or communicate with voters when they’re casting ballots.
  • Block voters from entering the polling place.
  • Question voters on their qualifications to vote.
  • Disrupt voters or election officials.

What to know about supporters at a polling place

A political candidate’s supporters who aren’t official election observers can’t simply “go into the polls and watch.”

If a supporter has not previously been designated as an official election observer, they must stand outside of the 50-foot electioneering area/buffer zone around the polling place. They can hand out literature and hold signs but can’t interfere with or intimidate any voter.

A supporter who is not an official election observer is not a “poll watcher” and has no legal authority.

Helpful links

Early voting in North Carolina for the 2020 general election runs from Oct. 15. to Oct. 31.

Click here for a list of early voting sites in Mecklenburg County.

Click here for more key dates for the 2020 elections in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Poll watching: What does it mean, what do watchers do, what is the law?

Click here for more election information and headlines.