Early voting begins today for the May primary election.
Today is the first day North Carolinians can cast their votes in this year's primary election. 289 sites across the state will be open for residents to come to the polls. That's 77 more locations than in 2010.
But the number of days the polls are open has shrunk. Last year, state legislators passed a law that shortened the early voting period from 17 to 10 days. According to this law, counties are supposed to provide the same number of hours available to vote as in 2010 by staying open longer or by opening more early voting sites.
But that's not easy for some rural counties with cash-strapped budgets. The same new law also allows exemptions enabling some areas to offer fewer hours as long as both county and state elections boards approve. Some Democrats say the shrunken early voting period was designed to discourage African-American voters, but Republicans strongly deny it.