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2024 Primary Sees Continued Impact of Anti-voter Policies as Advocates Protect the Vote

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (03.07.24) — North Carolina voters took to the polls during the 2024 Primary Election, with more than 1.7 million voters casting their ballot during the early voting period and Election Day.

The stage was set for the 2024 Primary nearly a year ago when the NC State Supreme Court revived the voter ID law requiring photo identification to cast a regular ballot at the polls. Continued anti-voter policies throughout the 2023 legislative session, including attacks on same-day registration, early voting, and local election administration, have already begun to permeate our elections and will have long-term implications for North Carolina voters.

“We knew coming into 2024 that this would be an election for the ages. This is our first presidential primary election since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and only the second presidential primary where we have had a voter ID requirement in place. Major policy shifts around public health guidance, reproductive access, LGBTQIA+ rights, and public education, among other issues, at the national, state, and local level over the last four years have been a stark reminder that participating in the electoral process, in voting and beyond, has long lasting effects,” said Cheryl Carter, Co-Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina. “The primary has been an early glimpse of how recent rule changes will impact voters and election administration this year and in the years ahead, though we will need to wait for more data to be available before we can fully quantify that impact.”

Democracy North Carolina will be reviewing preliminary data throughout the coming weeks. Some initial data points of note*:

  • Based on unofficial results, 1.79 million North Carolinians cast their ballots this spring out of 7.45 million registered voters for an estimated 24% voter turnout. In comparison, 31.2% of registered voters cast a ballot in the presidential primary in 2020 (2.16 million voters).
  • Registered North Carolina voters participated in semi-open party primaries, with races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, U.S. Congress and the NC General Assembly all the way down every party ballot. In 2012, the last time a primary this large took place while a Democrat served as President, 34% of registered voters cast a ballot in North Carolina.
  • Statewide, roughly 9.3% (694,591) of voters turned out for early voting.
  • As of March 7, Tuesday’s election resulted in 7,983 provisional ballots statewide, as compared to 18,229 in the 2020 Primary. While the number of provisional ballots is likely to increase as counties continue to process these ballots over the canvass period, this large difference may reflect the lower turnout of this primary as compared to 2020.
  • Counties varied widely in the number of provisional ballots voted, with the fewest (3) cast in Chowan County and the most (1,422) cast in Wake. While some of this variance can be explained by population, the number of provisional ballots cast in a county may also reflect the county’s culture around affirmatively offering them to voters. For example, in Mecklenburg County only 527 provisional ballots were cast, despite Wake and Mecklenburg having similar numbers of registered voters. And in the much less populous Brunswick County, 521 provisional ballots were cast.
  • 536 voters completed an ID exception form with 464 voters returning to the county boards of election with their photo ID. Counties with the highest number of ID exception forms included Wake (71), Mecklenburg (58), Durham (54), and Buncombe (26). From preliminary results listed in the provisional file, the most common reason provided for needing an ID exception form was a “lost or stolen ID” followed by “photo ID applied for but not yet received.”
  • 88,021 registered voters chose “no preference” over President Joe Biden in the Democratic party primary and 7,386 registered voters chose “no preference” over Donald Trump in the Republican party primary.

* These numbers will not be finalized until the statewide post-election canvass, expected on March 15, to ensure all votes have been counted correctly and required audits have been completed. Learn more at

Throughout the 2024 Primary voting period, election protection advocates from across the state have been working to ensure all voters have safe and secure access to the polls. Democracy North Carolina’s nonpartisan voter hotline, 888-OUR-VOTE, received 205 calls on Election Day alone, with nearly 600 calls total. Voters calling into the hotline had questions about voting sites, photo ID, and faced confused poll workers and aggressive electioneering. The confusion around ID among both voters and election officials showcases the need to provide adequate election administration funding to educate poll workers to ensure every voter is receiving the same guidance and support to cast their ballot across all 100 counties. In various cases, voters calling into the hotline said they presented IDs that had expired in the last year, considered valid under current law, but were still given a provisional ballot.

During each major election year, Democracy NC conducts the Vote Protector program, mobilizing volunteers to monitor polls on the ground to work in tandem with legal professionals on the Election Protection hotline. This year 143 Vote Protectors went to 28 counties during early voting action days and Election Day. Post-election, advocates shift to support canvass monitoring efforts, which include provisional “ballot chasing” where volunteers phone bank voters who cast a provisional ballot to make sure they return to their county board of elections office to validate their identification in a timely manner. Monitors also attend county board of elections meetings during the day of canvass as a public witness to the final count of ballots and certification of election results.

“We appreciate everyone who cast their ballot, as well as the incredible efforts of election officials and advocates to protect the vote during this primary season. The high instance of ‘no preference’ voters among both parties, an occasional occurrence in past elections but of particular significance this year, demonstrates that voters are not letting the two-party system limit their voices. It also amplifies the importance of voting down the whole ballot,” said Adrienne Kelly, Co-Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina. “As we have said time and again, if voting wasn’t important, certain individuals wouldn’t be working so hard to keep us from doing it. To those working at the polls, protecting the vote, and showing up to cast their ballot – keep going. Keep fighting. We’re right there beside you.”


Democracy North Carolina is a statewide nonpartisan organization that uses research, organizing, and advocacy to increase civic participation, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and remove systemic barriers to voting and serving in elected office.