Early voting begins Thursday for local government elections, and many North Carolina voters may be surprised to hear they can register and vote at the same time. That's because some changes from the state's 2013 election overhaul are on hold as lawsuits play out.
Two years ago, Republican state lawmakers passed sweeping changes, which included the elimination of same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. The U.S. Justice Department and others sued, alleging those changes would disproportionately harm African-Americans.
Last October, a federal appeals court ruled the Justice Department is likely to win on two of its arguments – same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. So those changes are on hold until a judge decides if the plaintiffs do in fact win their arguments.
What all this means for you is that you can register and vote on the same day during the early voting period this month. On Election Day, you can vote outside of your assigned precinct (as long as you're in the right county). You cannot register that day though. Check out Mecklenburg County's early voting information, as well as an explanation of the rules from the N.C. Board of Elections.
Once the judge's final ruling comes out, North Carolina's election laws may change again.