Early voting started Thursday, Feb. 15, for North Carolina’s March 5 primary election and runs through March 2. There are 360 early voting sites in all 100 counties, but they sometimes differ from a voter’s regular Election Day voting location. Voters can also hand in their absentee ballot to an election official at early voting sites.

According to data from the North Carolina Board of Elections (NCSBE) and shared with Dr. Andy Jackson of the John Locke Foundation, more than 4,300 primary ballots have been cast by mail ahead of early voting, with 41% of those coming from Democrats and 29% from Republicans. Turnout updates are available throughout this year’s election through carolinaelections.com.

In 2020’s presidential primary election, North Carolina saw a 36% voter turnout, with Democrats dominating the early voting period. However, Democrats have fewer primaries on the state’s ballot this year. Republican party officials are working to boost GOP early voter turnout. Among the 2020 ballots, 34.7% of Republican votes were cast early, or “absentee,” with just over 20.7% of Republican votes mailed-in. Among Democrats who cast a ballot in 2020, 35.3% were cast early with 44.5% cast by mail-in ballot.

“In-person early voting is one of the ways voters can cast ballots securely in North Carolina,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections in a press release on Thursday. “The bipartisan election officials who work at each early voting site are prepared for a smooth voting process and to ensure the ballots of eligible voters are counted.”

Voter ID is also in effect for elections in North Carolina. The NCSBE lists several forms of acceptable ID, including student IDs, military IDs, driver’s licenses, tribal enrollment cards, and free identification available through counties’ board of elections offices. Individuals not registered to vote in a county may also register and immediately vote at that site. 

In North Carolina’s primary system unaffiliated voters, the largest group of registered voters in the state’s electorate, can choose any party’s ballot.