2020 North Carolina Elections

Ways to Connect

Courtesy Heather Leja

Updated at 6 p.m.

On Friday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Edwin Wilson granted a temporary restraining order mandating that an early voting site in Reidsville reopen on Saturday from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m. The site was closed for several hours on Monday.

Laura Pellicer / WUNC

In the final days before the election, both the Trump and Biden campaigns are trying their luck at courting a last few votes. They are hoping Lumbee voters may help swing the state.

Over the weekend, Trump greeted thousands at a rally in Lumberton, Robeson County. The visit came on the heels of recent statements from both Trump and Biden asserting support for full federal recognition for the Lumbee tribe.


Patricia Timmons-Goodson
Duke University Law School

A soft-spoken former state Supreme Court justice who’s challenging a four-term incumbent represents one of several U.S. House races in which Democrats are hoping to reshape North Carolina's congressional delegation through redrawn district boundaries, strong candidates and a high-turnout presidential race.

A red rectangular sign with a white border and white stars at the top reading 'Polling Place' in white text. There is a large white arrow between the words polling and place, pointing to the right. The sign in some grass near a street.
Sharon M Leon/Flickr/CC

More than a third of registered voters in the U.S. have already cast their ballots. North Carolina saw visits from the president and vice president this week as early voting winds down and Election Day approaches. 

A roll of stickers with an American flag and the words 'I Voted' and 'Yo Vote.'
GPA Photo Archive/Flickr/CC

North Carolina has a history of split-ticket voting. In 2016, the state voted in a Republican president — but put a Democrat in the governor’s seat. The same thing happened in 2004, with George W. Bush for president and Mike Easley for governor. 

Thom Tillis Cal Cunningham U.S. Senate
Campaign Photos

While North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis tries to make big splashes in the final days of his reelection bid, Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham remains discreet with in-person campaigning.

Veterans traditionally are more likely to vote for Republican candidates. But polls suggest their support for President Trump has eroded.

Mike Pence coronavirus Florida
Wilfredo Lee / AP

Vice President Mike Pence is making his second and third campaign stops in North Carolina in three days for President Donald Trump's reelection bid.

A line of 10-20 people stretched outside the Elizabethtown recreation center for most of the morning Thursday, on the first day of early voting in North Carolina. An elections worker wearing a face shield and a mask worked the curbside voting area, where people could drive up and vote in their car. Candidates also had booths set up near the line, with organizers passing out literature to voters.

Walking out of the recreation center, Miles Hair said he usually votes early in person.

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.

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