Your guide to the 2020 primary elections


The North Carolina primary elections are coming up on March 3, and it promises to be quite a battle across the board.

Nearly every office is on the ballot this year. In addition to president, U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, voters will choose candidates for governor, major state offices and the N.C. General Assembly. Locally, Chatham residents can vote for candidates for the Chatham County Board of Commissioners.

How can I vote?

North Carolina has a semi-closed primary system, meaning that those registered with a specific party can only vote using that party’s ballot. Unaffiliated voters, however, can choose a ballot from any party. 

One-stop early voting began Feb. 13 and will last until Feb. 29. Early voting sites in Chatham County are: 

  • Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center — East Entrance 

1192 US HWY 64 West, Business, Pittsboro, NC 27312

  • CCCC Health Science Building

75 Ballentrae Court, Pittsboro, NC 27312 

  • Earl B. Fitts Community Center

111 S. Third Ave., Siler City, NC 27344

  • Goldston Town Hall

40 Coral Ave., Goldston, NC 27252

Early voting sites are open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. during weekdays. On Saturday, Feb. 22, they are open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as on Saturday, Feb. 29, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The general deadline to register to vote has passed, but you can still register to vote in person during one-stop early voting until Feb. 29. Those who wish to vote absentee in North Carolina can request an absentee ballot until Feb. 25. 

Who’s on the ballot

Here are the offices up for election this year: 

Federal elections

The race receiving the most buzz in 2020 is the U.S. presidential election. President Donald Trump, a Republican, is seeking reelection, and a packed field of Democratic candidates are gunning to be his opponent. Ballots were finalized in January, so candidates who may have dropped out since then will still appear on the ballot. 

Also in 2020, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis is up for reelection to the U.S. Senate. He faces several Republican challengers – and five people, including former N.C. State Sen. Cal Cunningham, are seeking the Democratic nomination to try to unseat Tillis. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. House race will be a little complicated for Chatham voters this year. After a recent redrawing of North Carolina’s congressional maps, Chatham County was moved out of the state’s 6th District and is now split between the 4th and 13th Districts. Democrat David Price currently represents the 4th District, while Republican Ted Budd holds the 13th District seat. Both are running for reelection, but only the 4th District will hold a primary election in March. 

Statewide elections

North Carolina will also elect a governor in 2020. Gov. Roy Cooper, the Democratic incumbent, is running for a second term, and Lieutenant Gov. Dan Forest is hoping to be his Republican challenger. 

The field for lieutenant governor is a crowded one. Forest, the incumbent, isn’t seeking reelection as he tries to unseat Cooper, and there is no shortage of candidates running to take Forest’s place.  There are six candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, and there are nine Republican candidates. 

Every seat in the General Assembly is up for reelection in 2020. N.C. State Sen. Valerie Foushee is hoping to represent N.C. Senate District 23 for a fourth term. She is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, and her sole Republican challenger is Tom Glendinning. Meanwhile, Rep. Robert T. Reives II is running for reelection in N.C. House District 54. Reives, the House Deputy Democratic Leader, is unopposed in the primary. George T. Gilson, Jr. is running in the Republican primary.

Other major offices, including Attorney General, Secretary of State and North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction, are also up for election. Check out this guide from the Chatham News + Record for more on some of the candidates.

County-specific elections

There are five Board of Commissioners seats in Chatham County, and each commissioner represents a different district. But only two seats are open this election cycle — District 1 (northeast Chatham) and District 2 (Moncure and Pittsboro). These seats are currently held by Democrats Karen Howard and Mike Dasher, respectively. Both are running for reelection. 

There will also be two referenda on the ballot for Chatham voters. The first referendum is a question of whether to allow beer sales for on-premise consumption.

The second referendum allows Chatham voters to choose whether the county will levy a new quarter-cent sales tax. 

If you want to know more about the proposed sales tax, check out this article (the first in a three-part series) from the Chatham News + Record here

Chatham voters can cast their vote either ‘For’ or ‘Against’ these referenda. 

To check your voter registration or find the location of your polling place on Election Day, use the voter search tool on the N.C. State Board of Elections website here.

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