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A procrastinator’s guide to NC primaries: Early voting, chance to register end soon

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Saturday is the final day of early voting in North Carolina’s 2022 primaries before Election Day on Tuesday.

Polls are scheduled to shut down at 3 p.m. Saturday. It figures to be a busy day, since interest in this year’s primary elections seems to be up substantially from previous years.

More than 422,000 people had voted early through Thursday, according to data from the N.C. State Board of Elections. That number is already tens of thousands higher than the total for all days of early voting in 2018, the most recent midterm primaries.

Both Democrats and Republicans have several high-profile, highly competitive primaries due to several members of Congress retiring this year — plus some newly drawn, incumbent-free districts for other U.S. House seats.

Republican Sen. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem is not seeking reelection. Nor are Democratic Rep. David Price, whose district covers Durham and Chapel Hill, or Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield, whose district includes Rocky Mount, Greenville and most of the rest of northeastern North Carolina. In addition to the opportunities for aspiring politicians opened up by those retirements, there are also brand new U.S. House districts, with no incumbent, in both the Raleigh and Charlotte suburbs.

What to know about early voting

• People who haven’t yet registered to vote are still allowed to register at the polls during early voting, but they won’t be allowed to do so on Election Day. More information is at ncsbe.gov/registering.

• Since each county typically only has a limited number of early voting sites, lines can sometimes get long. 

• Members of a political party can vote only in their own party’s primary. Unaffiliated voters can choose whether to vote in the Republican or Democratic primary. Any unaffiliated voters who are trying to decide which ballot to pick can find all possible sample ballots for their local races by entering their information at vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup.

The winners of each party’s primaries on Tuesday will move on to the general election in November. There are hundreds of races around the state with contested primaries on either side of the aisle.

The biggest draw in this year’s elections is the Senate race — especially since Burr is retiring after having served in Congress since 1994, starting with a decade in the House and followed by 18 more years in the Senate. That means that both Democrats and Republicans have primaries now to set up the November matchup to replace him.

Offices like president and governor won’t be on the ballot again until 2024, but this year will feature a number of other important elections — like for some of the state’s most powerful judicial positions — plus campaigns for every single seat in the North Carolina General Assembly and the state’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. And there are local races including for sheriff, district attorney, county commissioners, school board and city council races in various parts of the state.

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