2020 North Carolina Elections

Ways to Connect

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.

Thom Tillis speaking
http://thomtillis.com/ / Campaign Photo

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina said Monday that he's regained his senses of taste and smell, recovering from symptoms of COVID-19 after testing positive late last week.

Many people who live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities have health conditions that prevent them from leaving the site to vote in person. That means absentee by-mail voting is common enough that those facilities have some special rules about how to vote by mail in North Carolina. 

Scandal and litigation have cast a cloud of uncertainty over North Carolina elections. On Friday, incumbent Republican Sen. Thom Tillis announced he had tested positive for coronavirus. He's in self-isolation experiencing mild symptoms.

Notably, Tillis serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee and he’s the second member of that panel to test positive – along with Republican Michael Lee of Utah.

If Tillis and Lee are out for some time, the Republican majority's efforts to quickly push through Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett could be delayed.

Updated a 2:40 a.m. ET

President Trump sought to project an image of vigor in the face of COVID-19, with a surprise motorcade Sunday outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he is being treated, as his physicians suggested he could be discharged to return to the White House as early as Monday.

The president was admitted to Walter Reed on Friday, hours after announcing that he and the first lady had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Updated at 4:39 p.m. ET

Conflicting reports emerged Saturday about President Trump's health and the timeline of when he was first tested positive for the coronavirus.

Trump is "doing very well," his physician told reporters on Saturday morning, but a source familiar with the president's health later told White House pool reporters, that "the president's vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning." The Associated Press identified that information as coming from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Absentee ballot north carolina election
Gerry Broome / AP

A federal judge has blocked updated North Carolina absentee voting rules that gave voters more leeway to fix witness problems and extended the period when elections boards could accept mailed-in ballots.

U.S. District Judge James Dever issued a temporary restraining order on Saturday, halting the updated rules that were hammered out as part of a legal settlement with voting rights advocates.

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

White House physician, Dr. Sean Conley, is set to brief reporters on the president’s condition at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome, Pool)

The Democratic challenger in North Carolina's closely contested U.S. Senate contest has admitted to exchanging sexually suggestive text messages with a woman who's not his wife, but he said he will not drop out of the race.

Thom Tillis speaking
http://thomtillis.com/ / Campaign Photo

Republican Senator Thom Tillis confirmed on Friday that he tested positive for COVID-19.

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 North Carolina judge on Friday approved a newly reached settlement that will extend the time for counties to collect absentee ballots and make it easier for people to correct missing witness information on their ballot.

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

When Donald Trump's campaign took issue with a new rule on processing some votes in North Carolina, it didn't just complain to the Board of Elections and file a lawsuit. It wrote to some of the state's 100 local election offices with extraordinary guidance: Ignore that rule.

Two White Men, President General Ford and Jimmy Carter, standing at wooden looking podiums on a stage
Flickr / Creative Commons

North Carolina voters had the opportunity to watch two high-profile debates this week: the first presidential debate in Cleveland and the final U.S. Senate debate in Raleigh. President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off Tuesday night in a contentious debate that left many voters feeling disappointed and disillusioned. Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham took the stage Thursday for the last of three scheduled debates.

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

In contrast to the chaotic presidential debate earlier in the week, the third and final face-off between the top contenders in North Carolina's senate race last night was relatively mellow.


Absentee ballot north carolina election
Gerry Broome / AP

A federal judge said Wednesday that a North Carolina elections board directive making it easier for voters to fix witness deficiencies in absentee ballots may violate a previous ruling he made and has ordered state lawyers to explain the changes to him.

A photo of a sign saying 'Vote' with an arrow on a pole.
hjl // Flickr

While going to the ballot box on Election Day is an important ritual for many voters, the coronavirus pandemic has introduced a change in routine. As of Tuesday, Sept. 28, the North Carolina State Board of Elections has received more than a million absentee ballot requests. At this time in 2016, the Board of Elections had received just over 100,000. While some voters hope to stay healthy by avoiding the polls, mail-in voting still presents some anxiety and uncertainty, especially for historically disenfranchised voters like African Americans and Latinos.

Follow NPR's live coverage of the first 2020 presidential election debate, including fact-checking and analysis.

President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are in Cleveland for the event, moderated by Chris Wallace of Fox News.

The debate is expected to begin at 9 p.m.

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Granville County is a swing county in a swing state. In 2008 and 2012, voters there went for Barack Obama by healthy margins. But the county flipped in 2016, going for Trump by two percentage points.

Meet some Granville County residents and see how they're planning to vote this November:

Oxford, NC, the seat of Granville County
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

On a late afternoon in Granville County, Linda Smart took a stroll around beautiful Lake Rogers Park with her husband, Henry, and a friend.

"We're hikers and kayakers and stuff, so we're usually at parks," said Smart, 65.

The Smarts recently moved north from Durham to Granville to find a little more wide open space.

President Donald Trump speaks on stage during the first day of the Republican National Committee convention, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Charlotte.
Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump's campaign committee and the Republican National Committee sued Saturday to block North Carolina election officials from enforcing rule changes that could boost the number of ballots counted in the presidential battleground state.

Pro-Trump caravan participants drive past counter-protesters holding 'Black Lives Matter' signs in downtown Hillsborough on Sat., Sept., 26, 2020.
Mitchell Northam / WUNC

The Orange County Republican Party hosted a 'Trump Train' Saturday to show support for President Donald Trump and other North Carolina Republicans on the ballot this November. The caravan began in Hillsborough and made its way to Mebane, before looping back to the organization’s headquarters in Hillsborough.

Board of Elections absentee north carolina vote
Gerry Broome / AP

Ken Raymond and David Black suddenly resigned from the North Carolina State Board of Elections late Wednesday claiming they were misled about a proposed settlement of lawsuits over absentee voting rules. It was an abrupt turnaround from the unanimous vote the two members joined just days earlier in a closed session of the elections board.

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