State elections officials have added early voting hours in North Carolina's 9th and 3rd Congressional Districts, where polling sites in particularly storm-prone areas had been closed because of Hurricane Dorian.
The storm forced the closure of sites in four of the 9th District's eight counties, where the congressional seat has been vacant for more than a year thanks to a ballot-tampering scandal in the 2018 race.
Turnout will be a major factor in what is ostensibly a neck-and-neck race between Democrat Dan McCready and Republican Dan Bishop, though Libertarian Jeff Scott and Green Party member Allen Smith are also running. Typically, fewer voters turnout for such off-year contests, especially when they're special elections set on odd dates. Election Day is this Tuesday, Sept. 10.
State Elections Board Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell authorized additional early voting hours Friday and Saturday in Bladen, Cumberland, Robeson and Scotland counties, in the 9th District.
"We are thankful that Hurricane Dorian did not cause significant damage to the southeastern part of our state, and are mindful of what other areas may still face," said Bell, in a news release. "We are committed to ensuring that voters in the 9th Congressional District can cast their ballots for the September 10 election. I have ordered affected counties in this district to open today and Saturday to make up for some of the missed hours of early voting and allow voters to same-day register if needed. This is an important election, so we encourage all eligible voters to make their voices heard."
Early voting also was cut short in the 3rd Congressional District down east, the seat vacated by the death of longtime Republican Congressman Walter Jones. Because of those disruptions, the State Board of Elections decided to open early voting on Saturday--and same-day registration--from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in 11 counties: Beaufort, Cartaret, Chowan, Craven, Greene, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, Pitt.
There is also early voting Sunday, from noon to 3 p.m., in the following 3rd District counties: Camden, Currituck, Dare, Pasquotank, Perquimans, and Tyrell.