Starting today, an individual serving a felony sentence who is not in jail or prison may register to vote and vote. An individual must also have resided in North Carolina for at least 30 days prior to the election, be a U.S. citizen, and be at least 18 years old by the next general election.
Previously, under a North Carolina statute, a person serving a felony sentence could not register to vote or vote, whether they were in or out of prison, until they completed that sentence. This meant that felons serving probation, post-release supervision, or parole were not able to register or vote, until they completed their term of supervision.
Earlier this year, however, a North Carolina superior court determined that denying voting rights to people serving their felony sentences outside of jail or prison violates the state constitution. This decision has been appealed; however, while it is on appeal, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has ordered that the decision should go into effect as of July 27, 2022.
This means that, for the time being, any person serving a felony sentence outside of prison or jail is eligible to register to vote and vote. Those in jail or prison for a felony conviction are not allowed to register or vote. If a person is in jail awaiting trial for a felony but has not yet been convicted, they retain their voting rights. In North Carolina, a person never loses their voting rights for a misdemeanor conviction.
To register to vote in Buncombe County, visit the Buncombe County voter registration information page. The deadline to register for the Nov. 8, 2022 election is Oct. 14, 2022. Voters can also register and vote at the same time during early voting, which will take place this fall between Oct. 20 and Nov. 5.