2020 North Carolina Elections

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With less than two weeks until November 3, more than two million people have already voted. In our review of the week in state politics, Democratic strategist Aisha Dew and former chair of the North Carolina Federation of Young Republicans Clark Riemer discuss when they expect to have results and how they’re feeling about the races. Plus, what to make – if anything – about the Governor’s comment on Cal Cunningham. 


Voting can be a complicated process for many.  The pandemic is exposing that, with many rules  only just now being widely discovered for the first time.  For instance, North Carolina’s witness requirement on absentee ballots. 

For new American citizens, the process can be especially hard to navigate. 

Boxes of absentee ballot requests sit at the Durham County Board of Elections office in Durham, N.C. on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Updated at 7 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s campaign and North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to return the state to a shorter deadline for accepting late-arriving absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day.

Thousands of people crowded into Gastonia Municipal Airport for a rally for Donald Trump on Wednesday evening as the president made a last push for votes from North Carolina, a vital swing state.

"This is one hell of a big crowd," Trump said when he took the stage. "Thank you Gastonia!”

Board of Elections absentee north carolina vote
Gerry Broome / AP

Time was dwindling for thousands of North Carolina voters to fix absentee voting errors as elections officials hustled out an updated process for handling mail-in ballot problems two weeks before Election Day.

Absentee ballot north carolina election
Gerry Broome / AP

North Carolina can accept absentee ballots that are postmarked by Election Day for more than a week afterward, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

North Carolina is again home to the most expensive U.S. Senate race in the nation's history. During this 2020 election cycle, billions of dollars will flow through the somewhat mysterious apparatus of campaign finance.

On this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast, Jeff Tiberii speaks about the financial landscape with Anna Beavon Gravely of the NC Free Enterprise Foundation, journalist Jeremy Borden, who is also a volunteer leader with the Open Raleigh Brigade of Code for America. and UNC-Charlotte political science professor Eric Heberlig.

WUNC has all the coverage you need this election season. Check out our 2020 Voter Guide for information on absentee ballots and more. And be sure to check out our Races To Watch stories for everything you need to know about candidates in statewide and legislative elections. Subscribe to WUNC's Politics Podcast, and follow reporters Rusty Jacobs and Jeff Tiberii on Twitter.

North Carolina’s role as a pivotal 2020 battleground state for the White House and U.S. Senate has been well documented. Donald Trump is unlikely to secure another four years as president without carrying North Carolina, and the winner between Thom Tillis and Cal Cunningham may end up determining which party controls the Senate.

However, beyond the consequential top of the ballot contests, an even greater prize lingers on Election Day: control of the North Carolina General Assembly. Since 2020 is a census year, state lawmakers will handle the next round of redistricting in 2021. That means new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts, and the opportunity to cultivate power for the next decade.

Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris attends a worship service at St. Joseph AME Church in Durham, N.C., Sunday, Aug 25, 2019.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris will visit North Carolina on Wednesday, almost a week after canceling a visit due to COVID-19 cases among a staffer and flight crew member in her campaign.

Workers at the Durham County Board of Elections process absentee ballot requests while maintaining safety during the coronavirus pandemic in Durham, N.C. on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.
File, Ben McKeown / For WUNC

North Carolina issued new guidance Monday for counties to proceed with dealing with more than 10,000 deficient absentee ballots, which have been in limbo because of ongoing court battles over a witness requirement for voting by mail.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden went on offense over the weekend as both campaigned in states they are trying to flip during the Nov. 3 election, just over two weeks away.

Gerry Broome, Pool / AP Photo

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has entered the home stretch of his competitive and costly re-election bid with nearly $2.4 million more cash on hand than Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission on Thursday.

An unmarked envelope and absentee ballot for a voter in Orange County.
Amy Jeffries / WUNC

A lawyer for North Carolina's State Board of Elections said Friday that time is running out to process 10,000 absentee ballots with incomplete witness information and other errors after state and federal judges put additional freezes on the process.

Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Updated at 3:20 p.m.  

Long lines formed at polling places across North Carolina on Thursday as the battleground state kicked off early in-person voting. Early voting locations that opened in all 100 counties of the high-stakes swing state quickly drew crowds. More than 500,000 people have already cast mail-in absentee ballots amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roy Cooper Dan Forest 2020 election
Gerry Broome / AP

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican challenger Lt. Gov. Dan Forest faced off Wednesday night in the lone debate of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race. It was a spirited exchange over education, health care, economy and the COVID-19 crisis.

Roy Cooper Dan Forest 2020 election
Campaign Photos

North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will participate in the lone gubernatorial debate of the 2020 election cycle at 7 p.m. Wednesday with Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. 
 

The debate comes as the state has seen an uptick in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations after transitioning to a Phase 3 reopening.

 

Boxes of absentee ballot requests sit at the Durham County Board of Elections office in Durham, N.C. on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. The county has seen an increase in the number of absentee ballot requests for the 2020 election during the coronavirus pandemic
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Updated at 7 p.m.

A federal judge ordered North Carolina on Wednesday to ensure that absentee ballots have a witness signature in a mixed ruling that allows voters to fix other more minor problems without casting a new ballot from scratch.

Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

I first spoke with David Quinn a couple of weeks ago, before the first presidential debate. Quinn, 64, was coming out of the post office branch in downtown Oxford, the Granville County seat.

Quinn and his wife are empty nesters, who moved to Oxford from Raleigh.

"You don't have the traffic, you can buy way more house for way less money," he said at the time.

North Carolina U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis is ending his quarantine. The senator, who’s seeking reelection next month, announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 2.

Tillis’ office on Tuesday released a letter from his doctor clearing him to return to work and resume in-person activities.

Board of Elections absentee north carolina vote
Gerry Broome / AP

Weeks from the election, three of North Carolina's most populous counties are often taking two weeks or more to send absentee ballots out to voters who request them, an Associated Press analysis shows.

An unmarked envelope and absentee ballot for a voter in Orange County.
Amy Jeffries / WUNC

Tens of thousands of absentee ballots already returned by North Carolina voters have been processed without issue. But a much smaller number has been set aside – held up while elections officials eagerly await guidance on how to cure deficiencies like missing witness information.

As the nation approaches Nov. 3, more and more absentee vote requests are coming in. But for voters who or blind or have vision impairment, they face a choice of having a safe vote or a private vote. An alternative still hasn’t been rolled out in North Carolina with early voting starting next week.

In prior elections, Becky Davidson, who is blind, voted in person. One of her biggest challenges was how to get to the polls. This year she’s worried that social distancing won’t help protect her or other voters, especially with the markers on the floor that she isn’t able to see.

A red street sign saying 'danger due to misinformation' in what seems to be a city, there are headlights in the background
[Flickr]//Creative Commons

In the past decade, we’ve grown increasingly accustomed to a news cycle that operates at a breakneck pace and the ability to follow along with news updates on devices that fit into our pockets. But constant access to information does not necessarily make us more informed. The proliferation of social media and online information sites opened the doors to a less-regulated news economy, which means misinformation and hoaxes can often spread faster than the facts themselves. 

Boxes of absentee ballot requests sit at the Durham County Board of Elections office in Durham, N.C. on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. The county has seen an increase in the number of absentee ballot requests for the 2020 election during the coronavirus pandemic
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments over whether North Carolina is providing voters sufficient opportunity to fix absentee ballots that arrive without full information on who witnessed it.

Gerry Broome, Pool, file / AP Photo

A race in North Carolina critical to control of the U.S. Senate has been thrown into turmoil over allegations of personal misconduct by Democrat Cal Cunningham, a married man who had an extramarital relationship with a consultant.

Democrats seeking to transform the landscape of North Carolina politics must take back the state House.

Republicans captured a majority ten years ago, expanded it to veto-proof status in 2012, and in doing so have since fundamentally shifted governance in North Carolina. The GOP is aiming to hold on to its majority this election season, and – with redistricting on the horizon – trying to maintain control for another decade.

On this episode of the WUNC Politics Podcast, a conversation with state legislators Rep. Graig Meyer (D-Orange, Caswell) and Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) about the campaigns, key districts and one divisive strategy.
 


WUNC has all the coverage you need this election season. Check out our 2020 Voter Guide for information on absentee ballots and more. And be sure to check out our Races To Watch stories for everything you need to know about candidates in statewide and legislative elections. Subscribe to WUNC's Politics Podcast, and follow reporters Rusty Jacobs and Jeff Tiberii on Twitter.

Republicans re-claimed the state Senate in North Carolina in 2010 after more than a century in the minority. Two years later, Republicans added a three-fifths veto-proof majority, which they held until after the 2018 elections. Now, the stakes are set for a series of battleground contests. The sought-after prize is majority rule, and the winner gets to lead the next round of redistricting — and draw legislative and Congressional maps.

Headshots of both candidates side-by-side
Candidates' websites

If you had trouble keeping up with news over the weekend, you are not alone. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham admitted to extramarital sexting, while his opponent, Republican incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis tested positive for the coronavirus. Not in the top headlines: the latest in the most competitive races for State Senate seats.

A map of North Carolina color-coded by districts.
North Carolina Legislature

The past 10 years have seen North Carolina’s legislative and congressional district maps drawn and redrawn, court-ordered resolutions to partisan and racial gerrymandering and the long-term impact of racial redistricting. The upcoming 2020 election will determine how the state’s communities will be represented for the next decade.

Photo: 'Vote Here' sign in English and Spanish
Erik Hersman / Flickr

Around 11,000 voter registration forms pre-filled with incorrect information were mistakenly sent to people in North Carolina by a group seeking to increase election participation, state elections officials said Tuesday.

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