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North Carolina extends voting at four polling sites
Four polling locations in North Carolina will remain open past the state’s official poll closing time of 7:30 p.m. ET, the state’s Board of Elections voted Tuesday. The extension will delay the battleground state’s reporting of election results by 45 minutes, to 8:15 p.m. ET.
Four polling sites in three different counties across the state experienced various issues Tuesday morning, forcing them to pause operations or open late.
“With 2,660 polling sites, it is not unusual for minor issues to occur at polling sites that result in a brief disruption of voting,” the board of elections said in a press release. “The State Board routinely meets to discuss the extension of hours when the need arises.”
Varying delays in Cabarrus, Guilford, and Sampson counties prompted the board to issue specific extensions for each polling place. Voting was extended by 17 minutes, to 7:47 p.m., at a location in Cabarrus County, while voting was extended by 34 minutes, to 8:04 p.m., at a site in Guilford County. Two precincts that opened late in Sampson County are extended 45 minutes to 8:15 p.m.
If you are waiting in line when the polls close, stay in line, because you still have the right to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union has a full list of voting rights here.
Polling places are open until 7:30 p.m and voters in line at their assigned polling place at 7:30 p.m. on November 3 will be able to vote. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by November 3 but can be received through November 12, nine days after Election Day. By election eve, 4,550,963 had already voted, according to the U.S. Elections Project, close to the 4.7 million who voted in 2016 overall.
County election board staff begin processing absentee ballots five weeks before Election Day. According to the state board of elections, results won’t be tabulated and reported until Election Day. However, the board also said in an email that it anticipates that 97% or more of all ballots cast in North Carolina will be reported by the end of election night, so unofficial results may nonetheless come in on the earlier side of election night unless the race is very close.
Remaining ballots, including provisional ballots and absentee by-mail ballots that arrive after Election Day, will be counted and added to the totals during the post-election canvass period.
State of the race
In 2016, Donald Trump won 76 of North Carolina’s 100 counties; exit polls showed that Mr. Trump won White voters by more than 20 points, including White voters with college degrees by nearly 19 points. But this year, CBS News’ October 25 Battleground Tracker poll showed Biden edging out Mr. Trump by 6 points among White voters with 4-year degrees in the state — 50% to 44%.
Six counties in North Carolina voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 after voting for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. One of those counties is Granville County, about 40 miles outside of Wake County, home to the capital city of Raleigh.
Political scientists say the changing demographic of the state could favor the playing field for Democrats this election. With a younger, more diverse cohort of voters moving to North Carolina from out of state, it remains to be seen whether this could give Democrats the upper hand. The state has also seen its population increase by more than 340,000 people. U.S. Census data estimates suggest that over 340,000 more people now live in North Carolina than in July of 2016.
North Carolina’s Senate race has arguably been one of the most watched contests among the battleground states in 2020. CBS News previously reported in October that Democratic challenger and veteran Cal Cunningham admitted to exchanging sexually suggestive texts with a political strategist who was not his wife, while incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis tested positive for COVID-19 after being photographed maskless at the White House Supreme Court nomination ceremony of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
An October 25 CBS News poll shows Cunningham is still leading Senator Tillis, though by less than in September.
Cunningham reported raising $28.3 million in the third quarter and spent $30 million, while Tillis raised less than a fourth of Cunningham’s haul but spent less than $7 million in the last quarter.
By November 1, there were 276,692 confirmed cases of coronavirus reported in the state and 1,122 currently hospitalized according to the state’s department of health; over 4 million tests have been completed.
In October, North Carolina entered Phase 3 of reopening, which in part allowed gaming establishments to reopen and permitted large outdoor facilities with a capacity of more than 10,000 guests to reopen at 7% of total seating capacity.
Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who’s up for reelection, is arguing that he’s trying to reopen safely, while his opponent and Republican lieutenant governor, Dan Forrest, is accusing him of trying to keep the state locked down. A large-scale Republican National Convention was supposed to be held in North Carolina in August, but was ultimately pared down and limited to official party business as COVID cases spiked.
North Carolina’s unemployment rate in March 2020 was 4.3%, but the pandemic pushed it to a peak of 12.8% in May. By August, the unemployment rate in the state had dropped back down to 6.5% even though there are still roughly 300,000 less jobs than there were in March before the pandemic forced the state to shut down, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Outbreaks of coronavirus clusters at a North Carolina University made headlines shortly after Cooper announced in September that schools could reopen safely. Since then, schools have reopened and students have the option to participate in in-person or remote learning.
Education equity and school choice are among the top issues for North Carolina voters.
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