What are the rules for North Carolina’s Runoff Elections?

Early voting for North Carolina’s second primary (commonly referred to as runoffs) begins Thursday, April 25th. All 100 counties will be involved in this year’s second primary due to the two runoff elections for Republicans seeking statewide office.

During a second primary election, many of the rules stay the same as they would for a standard primary election. Early voting will be for 17 days, running from the third Thursday before the election (April 25th) to 3 pm on the last Saturday before the election (May 11th), and election day will be Tuesday, May 14th. All early voting locations throughout the state will open Mondays-Friday during regular business hours of 8:00 am to 7:30 pm. North Carolina counties are allowed to determine if they will have weekend early voting. Counties that had opted to have weekend early voting during the initial primary are not required to do the same for the runoff election. 

Counties may also change the number and location of early voting sites from the initial primary election. Counties typically offer fewer early voting sites in runoff elections. The list from the Board of Elections for early voting locations and their times of operation in each county can be found here.

What elections are on the ballot?

No candidate received at least thirty percent of the vote in the Republican primaries for state auditor and lieutenant governor, allowing the second-place candidates to call for runoff elections. There are additional Republican runoff elections for Congressional District 13 and the Gaston County Board of Commissioners. 

While the 6th congressional district was eligible for a second primary election, 6th congressional district candidate Mark Walker opted not to call for a runoff. Walker’s concession of the Republican 6th congressional district nomination followed his acceptance of a position with former president Donald Trump’s campaign.

Democrats have only one runoff election, for the Orange County School Board. However, this race has recently been the center of controversy over one of the candidates falsely claiming to have received a doctorate. Though incumbent Jennifer Moore has resigned from her position with the Orange County School Board due to “medical issues,” she is still on the ballot. Should she win the nomination, she would be eligible to serve on the County School board again.

Who Can Vote in the Second Primary

Regarding who is eligible to vote in the second primary, the primary voting rules mostly remain unchanged, with only a few exceptions. All Republicans and all Democrats who are in a district with a runoff election may take their party’s respective ballot. Unaffiliated who did not vote in the primary may opt for either party’s ballot. However, if a Unaffiliated voter chose a Democrat ballot in the initial primary, they cannot take a Republican one in the second primary or vice versa.  

The second primary is viewed as a continuation of the election; registration changes and new voters are prohibited between the initial and second primaries.   This prevents same-day registration from taking place during the early voting process. However, if an individual becomes eligible to vote between the time of the initial primary and the second primary, they can still be registered and vote in the second primary. An example would be someone moving into the state between the first and second primary elections.

However, someone registered in the state and wants to change parties to vote in the election would not be allowed to change their affiliation until after the second primary.