Instructions for Using the Current Forms of Municipal Government Database

This database allows users to view and search information pertaining to the form of government and method of election for each incorporated municipality (city, town, and village) in North Carolina.

 Conducting a Search:

The database provides users several options for viewing the information.

  1. Users can view the data for a particular municipality, simply by searching on the name of the unit;
  2. Users can view units that share common structures by selecting one or more categories.  For example, a person might ask to see all municipalities whose mayor serves a four-year term ("Mayor Term Length"), or all "cities" over 25,000 using partisan elections ("Population," "Municipality Style," and "Method of Election"), or all villages ("Municipality Style"), and so on;
  3. Users can view the entire list, either alphabetically or by population; and
  4. Users can view a summary of each of the elements in the database grouped by broad population categories.

Voting Methods for Selecting Governing Board Members:  The database includes information about how governing board members are selected. The choices, and the symbol used to represent each of them in the database, are:

  • AL – At-large.  Members are elected from the municipality as a whole, with all voters eligible to vote for each at-large position.
  • D – District.  Members are elected from districts.  A district member must reside in the district he or she represents, and only residents of the district may vote for that district’s member.
  • DAL – District-at-large.  Members represent districts and each must reside in the district he or she represents, but all voters of the municipality are eligible to vote for district-at-large positions.  These districts are also called "residence districts."
    If a municipality has a combination of at-large, district, or district-at-large positions on its governing board, notes in the database will indicate how many members are elected in each manner.

Election Methods:  Municipalities may use one of four methods for electing their governing board and mayor.  The four methods, and the word used to represent each of them, are:

  • Plurality.  Elections are nonpartisan, and the results are determined by plurality, with the person or persons receiving the highest number of votes elected to the open position or positions.
  • Majority.  Elections are nonpartisan.  If the person receiving the most votes for a particular position does not have a majority of votes cast for that position, a run-off is held between the two top finishers.
  • Primary.  Elections are nonpartisan.  A primary is held to narrow the field to two persons for each position open; in the subsequent election the person receiving the highest number of votes is elected.
  • Partisan.  Elections are partisan.  Each political party holds a primary to nominate a candidate for each open position; in the subsequent election the person receiving the highest number of votes is elected.

Citation Forms to Legislative Acts:

  • Private laws, which are abbreviated "Pr."
  • Public-Local laws, which are abbreviated "PL".
  • Session Laws, which are abbreviated "SL".

Saving Search Results:

By selecting the “Export Table” link located near the top left side of the database, all database criteria will be exported into an Excel spreadsheet.  The exported spreadsheet will not reflect specific search results (assuming the user utilized option 1).  However, the user can manipulate the data within the Excel spreadsheet to achieve custom search results.

The School updates the database on an ongoing basis. Beginning in July 2017, we are recording changes in the Change Log.” The Change Log will note changes made by the General Assembly, as well as changes that are made by local ordinance pursuant to G.S. 160A-101, and that have been reported to the legislative library (as required by statute).

If you find an error in the entry for any city, town, or village, please report it to School of Government faculty member Frayda Bluestein (

Public Officials - Local and State Government Roles
Topics - Local and State Government