The United States Constitution controls the election of the President and Vice-President of the United States. Among other things, it provides that those offices be elected by electors. The number of electors in any individual state is equal to the number of United States Senators and Representatives to which that state is entitled in Congress. So, North Carolina has 15 electors. Article 18 of Chapter 163 of the North Carolina General Statutes provides the method for identifying the presidential electors in North Carolina.
What We Do
With regard to the Electoral College and the election for United States President and Vice President, the North Carolina Secretary of State:
- Notifies the political parties about legal requirements that may limit someone from holding two offices at once. If any unaffiliated candidates qualify to have their names on the ballot for President of the United States, we also notify them. This notice helps the parties and unaffiliated candidates pick their electors.
- Receives the names of candidates for electors for nominees for President and Vice President of the United States from the political parties and qualified unaffiliated candidates.
- Notifies the individual electors about the legal requirements related to holding two offices at once.
- Certifies to the Governor the names of the persons elected to the office of elector for President and Vice-President of the United States.
- Makes the arrangements for the meeting of the electors, including the agenda and invitations to guests.
How the Process Works in North Carolina
In North Carolina, elections are conducted by the North Carolina State Board of Elections. The State Board determines which political parties and candidates have qualified to be on the ballot according to NC law. Unaffiliated candidates also have to qualify in order to have their names printed on the NC general election ballot.
In North Carolina, political parties file the names of their candidates for electors for their nominees for President and Vice-President with the North Carolina Secretary of State. If unaffiliated candidates qualify, they also have to file the names of their candidates for electors for their nominees for President and Vice-President with the Secretary of State.
NC elections law just says that the names of the elector candidates have to be filed with the Secretary of State. It does not say how the political parties or unaffiliated candidates pick their elector candidates. A vote for a candidate named on the ballot for President and for Vice-President is a vote for the electors of that party or unaffiliated candidate
After the general election, the NC State Board of Elections prepares abstracts of the election returns. The State Board certifies the names of the persons elected to office. The abstracts include the results of votes for the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States.
The State Board of Elections files the original abstracts with the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State then certifies the names of persons elected to the office of elector for President and Vice-President of the United States. The Secretary of State’s certification goes to the Governor of North Carolina.
After the Secretary of State certifies the election results to the Governor, the Governor issues a proclamation. The proclamation names the electors. It also instructs the electors to be present “in the old Hall of the House of Representatives in the State Capitol in Raleigh at noon on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December following their election”. At that time, the electors meet and vote on behalf of the State for President and Vice-President of the United States. The Governor then follows federal law to ensure that the votes cast by the electors get to Congress and the National Archives.
You can watch videos of the 2016 or 2012 meetings of the North Carolina Electoral College.
What the Secretary of State Does Not Do
The Secretary of State does not:
- Conduct elections in North Carolina. The North Carolina State Board of Elections is an independent agency that conducts elections.
- Decide which candidates can get on the ballot for an election. The State Board of Elections decides which political parties and candidates have qualified to be on the ballot.
- Tell the electors how to vote or control how the electors vote. State law does include a provision about how the electors vote. G.S. § 163-212.