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North Carolina > Elections And Election Laws > Conduct of Primaries and Elections (§ § 163-128 through 163-225) Ballots and Voting Systems (§ § 163-165.1 through 163-165.10) Article 14A. Voting (§ § 163-165 through 163-167)

§ 163-165.5. Contents of official ballots.

Overview of Statute

Section mandates what content must be produced on the ballot, and the manner which it is to appear.


(a) Except as provided in this section, each official ballot shall contain all the following elements:

(1) The heading prescribed by the State Board. The heading shall include the term “Official Ballot”.

(2) The title of each office to be voted on and the number of votes allowed in each ballot item.

(3) The names of the candidates as they appear on their notice of candidacy filed pursuant to G.S. 163-106, 163-106.1, 163-106.2, 163-106.3, 163-106.4, 163-106.5, and 163-106.6 or on petition forms filed in accordance with G.S. 163-122. No title, appendage, or appellation indicating rank, status, or position shall be printed on the official ballot in connection with the candidate’s name. Candidates, however, may use the title Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms. Nicknames shall be permitted on an official ballot if used in the notice of candidacy or qualifying petition, but the nickname shall appear according to standards adopted by the State Board of Elections. Those standards shall allow the presentation of legitimate nicknames in ways that do not mislead the voter or unduly advertise the candidacy. In the case of candidates for presidential elector, the official ballot shall not contain the names of the candidates for elector but instead shall contain the nominees for President and Vice President which the candidates for elector represent. The State Board of Elections shall establish a review procedure that local boards of elections shall follow to ensure that candidates’ names appear on the official ballot in accordance with this subdivision.

(4) Party designations in partisan ballot items.

(5) A means by which the voter may cast write-in votes, as provided in G.S. 163-123. No space for write-ins is required unless a write-in candidate has qualified under G.S. 163-123 or unless the ballot item is exempt from G.S. 163-123.

(6) Instructions to voters, unless the State Board of Elections allows instructions to be placed elsewhere than on the official ballot.

(7) The printed title and facsimile signature of the chair of the county board of elections.

(8) The designation of vacancy sought, for any vacancy for the office of Justice or judge of the courts. The designation shall not be the name or names of any incumbent or other individual but shall be designated as determined by the State Board.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, an official ballot created and printed by use of a voting system in the voting enclosure shall be counted if all of the following apply:

(1) Each of the following are printed on that official ballot:

a. The date of the election.

b. The precinct name or a unique identification code associated with that ballot style.

c. The choices made by the voter for all ballot items in which the voter cast a vote.

(2) The electronic display of the voting system seen by the voter contains all of the information required by subsection (a) of this section.

(3) The voter is capable of reviewing the printed official ballot, and voiding that ballot, prior to casting that voter’s ballot.

(4) The voter’s choices in and on the electronic display are removed prior to the next voter using that voting equipment.

(2001-460, s. 3; 2003-209, s. 1; 2007-391, s. 10; 2008-187, s. 33(a); 2015-103, s. 4(b); 2015-292, s. 1; 2016-125, 4th Ex. Sess., s. 21(g); 2017-3, s. 12; 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-121, s. 4(a); 2018-146, s. 3.1(a), (b).)

Definition [Ballot item]

“Ballot item” means a single item on a ballot in which the voters are to choose between or among the candidates or proposals listed.

§ 163A-1095 (2). Definitions

Definition [Ballot style]

“Ballot style” means the version of a ballot within a jurisdiction that an individual voter is eligible to vote. For example, in a county that uses essentially the same official ballot, a group office such as county commissioner may be divided into districts so that different voters in the same county vote for commissioner in different districts. The different versions of the county’s official ballot containing only those district ballot items one individual voter may vote are the county’s different ballot styles.

§ 163A-1095 (3). Definitions

Definition [Voting system]

“Voting system” means a system of casting and tabulating ballots. The term includes systems of paper ballots counted by hand as well as systems utilizing mechanical and electronic voting equipment. (2001-460, s. 3; 2001-466, s. 3(a), (b); 2002-159, s. 21(h); 2006-262, s. 4; 2013-381, ss. 30.1, 30.2; 2015-103, ss. 4(a), 5(a), 6(b); 2017-6, s. 3.)

§ 163A-1095 (11). Definitions

Definition [Official ballot]

“Official ballot” means a ballot that has been certified by the State Board of Elections and produced by or with the approval of the county board of elections. The term does not include a sample ballot or a specimen ballot.

§ 163A-1095 (5). Definitions

Definition [Voting enclosure]

“Voting enclosure” means the room within the voting place that is used for voting.

§ 163A-1095 (9). Definitions

Definition [board]

The term “board” means the State Board with respect to all candidates for State, legislative, and judicial offices and the county board of elections with respect to all candidates for county and municipal offices. The term means the State Board with respect to all statewide referenda and the county board of elections conducting all local referenda.

§ 163A-1411 (3). Definitions.





Definition [Board]

Board. – Any State board, commission, council, committee, task force,
authority, or similar public body, however denominated, created by statute or
executive order, as determined and designated by the State Board, except for
those public bodies that have only advisory authority.

§ 163A-152 (3). Definitions

Definition [State]

“State” means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

§ 163A-1336 (5). Definitions.

Definition [Ballot]

(Effective until January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 – see note) “Ballot” means an instrument on which a voter indicates that voter’s choice for a ballot item so that it may be recorded as a vote for or against a certain candidate or referendum proposal. The term “ballot” may include a paper ballot to be counted by hand, a paper ballot to be counted on an electronic
scanner, the face of a lever voting machine, the image on a direct record electronic unit, or a ballot used on any other voting system.

(Effective January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 – see note) “Ballot” means an instrument on which a voter indicates that voter’s choice for a ballot item so that it may be recorded as a vote for or against a certain candidate or referendum proposal, and is evidenced by an individual paper document that bears marks made by the voter by hand or through electronic
means, whether preprinted or printed in the voting enclosure.

§ 163A-1095 (1). Definitions.

Definition [Office]

(4) Office. – The elected office for which the candidate has filed or petitioned.
(2006-155, s. 1; 2006-259, s. 48(a); 2017-6, s. 3.)

§ 163A-1025 (4). Definitions.

Definition [election]

The term “election” means any general or special election, a first or second primary, a run-off election, or an election to fill a vacancy. The term “election” shall not include any local or statewide referendum.

§ 163A-1411 (30). Definitions.

Definition [Election]

“Election” means the event in which voters cast votes in ballot items concerning proposals or candidates for office in this State or the United States. The term includes primaries, general elections, referenda, and special elections.

§ 163A-1095 (4). Definition

Definition [candidate]

The term “candidate” means any individual who, with respect to a public office listed in G.S. 163A-1411(80), has taken positive action for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination, retention, or election to public office. Examples of positive action include any of the following:

a. Filing a notice of candidacy, filing a notice to be retained, or a petition requesting to be a candidate.

b. Being certified as a nominee of a political party for a vacancy.

c. Otherwise qualifying as a candidate in a manner authorized by law.

d. Making a public announcement of a definite intent to run for public office in a particular election.

e. Receiving funds or making payments or giving the consent for anyone else to receive funds or transfer anything of value for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination or election to office. Transferring anything of value includes incurring an obligation to transfer anything of value. Status as a candidate for the purpose of this Article continues if the individual is receiving contributions to repay loans or cover a deficit or is making expenditures to satisfy obligations from an election already held. Special definitions of “candidate” and “candidate campaign committee” that apply only in Part 2 of this Article are set forth in G.S. 163A-1475.

§ 163A-1411 (9). Definitions.

Definition [Candidate]

“Candidate” means any individual who, with respect to a public office listed in G.S. 163A-1411(80), has filed a notice of candidacy, notice of retention, or a petition requesting to be a candidate, or has been certified as a nominee of a political party for a vacancy, or has otherwise qualified as a candidate in a manner authorized by law, or has filed a statement of organization under G.S. 163A-1412 and is required to file periodic financial disclosure statements under G.S. 163A-1418.

§ 163A-1475 (2). Definitions.


North Carolina Cases

Case Name: McLean v. Durham County Bd. of Elections

Citation: 21 S.E.2d 842

Year: 1942

Case PDF: McLean v. Durham County Board of Elections

Case Summary: The Board refused to accept the candidate's party convention nomination and denied the candidate's right to have his name printed on the official ballot as they failed to comply with provisions of the State Primary Law Code § 6018 (failure to file notice of candidacy with the Board and failure to pay filing fee). The candidate then filed an application for mandamus to compel the Board to print his name on the ballot. Pursuant to state law, power to control and regulate primaries and elections rests exclusively in the legislative branch of the state government. Thus in recognizing the State Primary Law did not conflict with any provisions of the state or federal constitution, the court denied the candidates petition. In conclusion, so long as there is no unjust discrimination, the state may, by exercising its inherent police power, suppress whatever evils may be incident to a primary or convention for the designation of candidates for election to public office.

Out-of-State Cases

Federal Cases