Voting

One week to go before Election Day 2020 and the votes continue to pour in by the millions. Behind every ballot cast is a voter wielding the pen and filling in the bubbles for who they want to see in office.

On this episode of the Politics Podcast, we hear from a handful of voters across the battleground state of North Carolina about what’s on their minds. Host Jeff Tiberii also talks with WUNC politics reporter Rusty Jacobs about Granville County and why it's a region to keep a close eye on this election.
 


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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 election officials agreed Tuesday that mail-in absentee ballots returned this fall with deficient information can be fixed without forcing the voter to fill out a new blank ballot. The change, if it stands, would likely yield an upward tick in the number of counted ballots in this presidential battleground state.

This week:  Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis and his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham had their first debate. The Democrat's answer to a hypothetical question about the COVID-19 vaccine caught some attention. 

On the reopening front, Gov. Roy Cooper announced elementary schools could welcome back all their students soon — as long as they wear masks and practice social distancing. Meanwhile Cooper's opponent, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, said face covering requirements would be dropped come January if he were to win the governor's race.

Offering insight and making their debut as our commentators are Aisha Dew of Higher Heights and Clark Riemer, former chair of the North Carolina Young Republicans and a staffer in the state House.
 


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

Few people, if anyone, track voting data in North Carolina more closely than Michael Bitzer. The Catawba College political scientist posts near daily upates on his Old North State Politics blog, crunching the latest numbers from elections officials across the state. And Bitzer's steady stream of tweets make something very clear: 2020 is shaping up to be very different from previous presidential election years.

Mecklenburg County Elections Director Michael Dickerson demonstrates a new touch-screen voting unit.
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

Touch-screen ballot-marking machines will remain in use in North Carolina this fall, a judge ruled in a case in which voters questioned the equipment's accuracy and health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Voting sign
Wikipedia Commons

Millions of dollars are pouring into the political campaigns that will ultimately determine control of the North Carolina Legislature.

next gen america
Rachel Weber / Next Gen America

Registering to vote is usually an interactive, interpersonal effort, where organizations host registration events at college campuses or churches. But in the time of pandemic, it's changed the way nonprofit organization are reaching potential voters.

File photo of polling worker as she enters a polling place in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 24, 2019 as early voting began in the Republican primary election for the North Carolina 9th Congressional District, a special election that was forced after l
Chuck Burton / AP

Anne Moebes signed up to work at a polling site in Buncombe County for the March 3 primaries, just before the coronavirus pandemic really hit the United States. It was her first time volunteering as a poll worker and she ended up serving as a precinct judge.

Madison Cawthorn for Congress

A 24-year-old political newcomer handily defeated a candidate endorsed by President Donald Trump in yesterday’s Republican runoff election in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District. 

Credit: Union County Government

With rare consensus from Democrats and Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representatives, House Bill 1169 — which outlines provisions for an anticipated increase in absentee-by-mail voting this fall — passed 116-3 last week.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

This week began with President Trump trying to lure Gov. Roy Cooper into a tussle on Twitter.

It concluded with North Carolina's health secretary pressing for more details about how the organizers of the Republican National Convention plan to safely hold the event in Charlotte this August. 

Becki Gray of the John Locke Foundation and Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch ponder that, and also state lawmakers' bipartisan agreement on an elections bill and discord over letting bars reopen sooner rather than later while COVID-19 remains a threat.  
 


Vote Here sign
Erik Hersman / Creative Commons https://bit.ly/1ezRl1S

 

Temporary and permanent changes to mail-in absentee ballot rules in North Carolina and funds to improve safety at in-person voting sites this year during the COVID-19 pandemic received overwhelming approval Thursday by the state House.

Michael Dickerson, director of elections for Mecklenburg County, demonstrating a voting machine.
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

With the March 3rd primaries just around the corner, the state elections board has OK'd upgrades to a newly approved voting system, allowing the vendor to bypass a lengthier certification process. 

vote graphic
Public Domain / U.S Air Force Graphic

North Carolina elections officials will decide whether to accept software and equipment alterations by a voting-machine manufacturer that recently got touch-screen ballot-marking devices certified for use in the state during the 2020 elections.

Sample voting machines. North Carolina elections officials are deciding which voting machines are cleared to use the state.
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

Updated Aug. 27, 2019

The North Carolina Board of Elections will not require county boards to use hand-marked paper ballots in upcoming elections.

One of the three voting systems being considered for certification by the State Board of Elections.
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

The State Board of Elections is scheduled to vote Monday night on the certification of new voting systems for use in North Carolina. The decision comes just as a U.S. Senate report raised concerns about voting machine security nationwide.

A picture of people in voting booths
Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr Creative Commons

North Carolina won't clear voting-machine makers to sell their systems to county elections boards until it learns more about who owns them, the state's elections board chairman said Friday.

Map of North Carolina counties that need to replace voting equipment
North Carolina State Board of Elections

Counties across the state are working to beat a December deadline to replace touch-screen voting machines with models that use a paper ballot in order to comply with a 2013 state law.

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

Eleven percent of all voters on Election Day in 2018 were Latinx, based on exit poll estimates. According to internal analytics from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Latinx early voting participation was up 174 percent compared to the 2014 midterms. 

Capturing the Flag

The bedrock of American democracy is the right of every citizen to vote. But exercising that right can sometimes prove complicated. During the 2016 election, three old friends headed to Fayetteville to volunteer at polling stations, accompanied by a single camera they hoped would capture their efforts to ensure everyone who wanted to carry out their civic duty could do so. 

Clinton, Trump Campaigns Call On Surrogates To Rally Millennial Support In NC

Nov 3, 2016
Fayetteville State University's marching band kicks off the early vote event with President Bill Clinton at the university in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Rishika Dugyala / Medill News Service

Surrogates for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign have fanned out across this battleground state, trying to bridge a perceived enthusiasm gap as Election Day nears.

Pages