Blog: High turnout, incumbents carry day

Posted November 4, 2014
Updated March 31, 2016

Candidates and supporters in Cumberland County gathered for an election night party.

After months of campaigning and thousands of negative ads, voters had their say Tuesday across North Carolina and the nation.

9:25 p.m.: Democrats pull off clean sweep of four Wake County commissioner races. Party now controls Board of Commissioners 7-0.

9:10 p.m.: Incumbents Renee Ellmers, George Holding and Virginia Foxx join the victory parade back to Capitol Hill, retaining their seats in the 2md, 13th and 5th congressional districts. Republican David Rouzer takes the 7th District seat vacated by Democrat Mike McIntyre.

9:05 p.m.: State Rep. Tom Murry, R-Wake, is the first notable incumbent to fall, losing his bid to return to the state House to Democrat Gayle Adcock.

9 p.m.: Turnout among college-age voters was up 38 to 60 percent over 2010 totals in campus precincts in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, according to the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group Education Fund’s New Voters Project.

Turnout at North Carolina State University was up 57 percent even after the polling site was moved off campus, the group said. Meanwhile, turnout at a Duke University precinct was up 40 percent, and turnout at two precincts near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was up 38 and 60 percent.

8:50 p.m.: Democrat Lorrin Freeman defeated Republican John Bryant in the Wake County district attorney race.

8:40 p.m.: Conservative Republican Mark Walker has defeated Laura Fjeld and will succeed 6th District Congressman Howard Coble. Incumbent Richard Hudson also has won in the 8th District.

8:25 p.m.: State Rep. Alma Adams is taking her hat collection to Capitol Hill, having won the 12th Congressional District seat vacated by Mel Watt.

8:25 p.m.: Add David Price and Patrick McHenry to the list of incumbents winning re-election to Congress. They captured the 4th and 10th districts, respectively.

8:15 p.m.: Incumbents G.K. Butterfield, Walter Jones, Robert Pittenger and Mark Meadows have won re-election to their respective seats in the 1st, 3rd, 9th and 11th congressional districts. Pittenger was unopposed.

7:30 p.m.: Aside from one site in Robeson County, polls across North Carolina have closed.

7:28 p.m.: State elections officials were able to contact Maxton precinct officials to order them to remain open until 8:15 p.m.

7 p.m.: The State Board of Elections is holding an emergency meeting to discuss requests from Johnston, Robeson and Lincoln counties to keep certain polls open beyond 7:30 p.m. because of problems earlier in the day.

A precinct in Maxton ran out of ballots and closed for about 45 minutes in the afternoon – only 500 ballots were provided to the precinct, which has about 2,500 registered voters, officials said – so 60 to 70 voters who showed up during that time were turned away. The state board voted to allow the precinct to stay open until 8:15 p.m.

A polling place was moved for a precinct in Clayton, but the state elections board website continued to show a photo of the old site. Precinct officials redirected voters to the new site, but some local advocates asked that the precinct remain open until 8 p.m. because of the confusion. The board rejected the request.

The board also rejected a proposal to keep the Bentonville precinct open until 9 p.m. because it opened late.

Lincoln County had a countywide power outage Tuesday morning, which delayed the opening of two polling places by 15 to 30 minutes. Two voters complained about the issue, but the board decided not to extend the voting time beyond 7:30 p.m.

5:15 p.m.: There have been sporadic reports of problems at individual precincts throughout the day, although state election officials say there are few signs of systematic problems thus far.

The biggest problems logged by the state have been in Johnston County, where the polling site at the Bentonville Community Building didn’t open until 8 a.m., an hour and a half after Election Day’s 6:30 a.m. start time. Josh Lawson, a spokesman for the board of elections, said roughly 70 people left the polling place without voting in the morning.

The State Board of Elections has the option extending the hours that polling place will be open beyond the normal 7:30 p.m. closing time, although they have not yet met to make that decision.

5 p.m.: Voting-rights group Advancement Project is reporting numerous problems with voting machines in Mecklenburg County, with one polling place being down for more than an hour. The group has asked county elections officials to extend voting hours at the site, but changes to state elections laws that the General Assembly passed last year require that the State Board of Elections approve any such extensions.

4:50 p.m.: WRAL News reporter Ken Smith is set up at U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's headquarters at the Greensboro Coliseum, waiting for her to deliver either a victory address or a concession speech.

Hagan stayed close to Greensboro on Election Day, making the rounds in Guilford County to rally volunteers and supporters.

Meanwhile, WRAL News reporter Cullen Browder is waiting at the Omni hotel in Charlotte for Republican candidate Thom Tillis to either claim victory or admit defeat in the U.S. Senate race.

Tillis hit a few polling sites in Charlotte earlier in the day to meet voters. Browder said his campaign is trying to exude confidence after a grueling campaign, and Tillis even joked that he'll be happy not to see his face in a campaign ad on Wednesday.

4:40 p.m.: WRAL News reporter Kathryn Brown says poll workers at Chavis Park Community Center in south Raleigh describe voter turnout for Tuesday's midterm election as similar to that seen in presidential elections.

"We've been very surprised with the numbers. We didn't think we would do half of we've done," chief precinct judge Anne Downey said. "Everybody seems really motivated."

State election officials say voter turnout has been particularly high in Apex and Cary.

3:25 p.m.: The Center for American Progress has sent a letter to State Board of Elections Director Kim Westbrook Strach asking her to ensure eligible voters have access to the polls. The letter follows reports of voting machines registering incorrect votes and polling places in black neighborhoods being down or having incorrect voter rolls.

"These examples of failed vote tabulation, incorrect voter rolls, and precinct confusion make it clear that voters in North Carolina are not freely able to exercise this most cherished right," Michele Jawondo, vice president of the progressive group, wrote in the letter. "We call upon the state board of elections to investigate and address these issues immediately to ensure that North Carolinians can exercise their legal right to vote."

2:55 p.m.: Josh Lawson, spokesman for the State Board of Elections, said 300,000 to 400,000 people had voted across North Carolina by 10 a.m., which was the latest estimate of voter turnout available.

2:40 p.m.: Weaver Moses with the Wake County Voter Education Coalition was handing out literature outside Raleigh Fire Station No. 2, off South Saunders Street, where Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison visited earlier in the day.

Moses said this is his first time working a polling place, but he was told that turnout is ahead of where it was two years ago.

"The U.S. Senate is the one," he said when asked which race people were most interested in voting in.

His group has endorsed Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and that campaign.

"There are a lot of big issues at stake," he said, noting that people have expressed the most concern about education and health care.

Election Day 2014

2:20 p.m.: The North Carolina Association of Educators filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections on Tuesday over handouts they say are misleading voters at multiple Wake County polling locations.

The apple-shaped cards are similar to handouts distributed by NCAE for years.

1:20 p.m.: At the polling place at Westhigh Evangelical Covenant Church in Cary, Ben Hebda,16, (blue shirt) and Mason Poole, 17, (in red) were handing out literature on behalf of Republican state Senate candidate Molotov Mitchell.

It was a first time working the polls for both.

"We like to encourage people to vote," Hebda said.

Poole is in a martial arts class that Mitchell teaches.

Both are home-schooled but take a civics class and are getting extra credit for their work on Tuesday.

"They've been pretty friendly," Hebda said of the voters he's met.

Election Day 2014

12:50 p.m.: Grady Shields, husband of stat Court of Appeals candidate Tricia Shields, campaigned for his wife in Cary Tuesday.

Tricia Shields is one of 19 candidates for a seat on the appeals court.

"She was the first to file, though," Gary Shields said. "She didn't know there were going to be 19."

He said that there had been steady turnout at his polling location, Peace Presbyterian Church, from 6:30 a.m. on, and things only slowed down a bit at lunchtime.

Election Day 2014

12:10 p.m.: Democratic challenger Clay Aiken isn't done campaigning for the 2nd Congressional District seat held by Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, but his bus has had enough.

The vehicle broke down early Tuesday after Aiken visited the polls.

"The bus couldn't keep up with the pace of our campaign, so we had to leave it behind," Aiken's campaign said in a statement. "We've worked it to death these past three weeks traveling across the district, and it got the job done."

Viewer Andy Washburn sent WRAL News a photo of Aiken's broken down bus Tuesday morning.

Clay Aiken's bus breaks down

12:00 p.m.: Hope Bryant, the wife of district attorney candidate John Bryant, started greeting voters outside the Optimist Park voting location in north Raleigh at around 11 a.m.

"It seems like the lunch crowd has gotten steadier," she said as the number of voters picked up toward midday.

Hope Bryant did not know that her new husband was interested in running for DA when they got married earlier this year. However, she is no stranger to politics. Her father was a Johnston County commissioner for 30 years, and she used to help him campaign.

"I think most people know what they want to do before they get here," she said of voters, even as she asked them to consider voting for her husband.

Hope Bryant

11:45 a.m.: ‎ Voter turnout was steady throughout the morning, Cherie Poucher, director of the Wake County Board of Elections, said just before noon.

The length of the ballot was requiring that voters take their time, she said, noting that straight-ticket voting is no longer an option in North Carolina.

11:30 a.m.:  Tom Bradshaw, a Democratic candidate for state Senate, spent Tuesday morning greeting voters outside the senior center at Millbrook Exchange Park.

"These people remember me," he said, after exchanging greetings with one man who said he had a Bradshaw sign in his yard.

"Even if I don't win, I have at least raised awareness that we are not paying attention to the right priorities," Bradshaw said. He said he is running in order to urge Republican state Senate leaders to invest more in education and other public projects that make Raleigh and North Carolina attractive.

Election Day 2014

11:30 a.m.: Area universities are using some unusual tactics to encourage students to vote.

At St. Augustine's University in Raleigh, the Student Government Association organized a coordinated march to the polls Tuesday morning.

Cosmopolitan magazine sent a crew of male models to North Carolina State University where a "party bus" was shuttling students to their polling place. The Washington Post reported that sophomore Camden Willeford won a national contest to attract the bus.

10:51 a.m.: Brian Shrader captured five minutes of activity outside Fellowship of Christ Church in Cary.

Turnout is running high at the polling place, workers said. Crowds and lines have been reported at polling places across Wake County this morning.

7:25 a.m.: Election officials in Cumberland County are working to correct problems being reported at Honeycutt Elementary School in Fayetteville and Cumberland Mills Elementary School in Hope Mills. Officials told WRAL News reporter Gilbert Baez that those locations received incorrect thumb drives.

Many voters have left both polling places without casting ballots. The schools are about 2½ miles apart.

6:30 a.m.: Polls are open in North Carolina.

Temperatures will be chilly for those voting before work or school, according to WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. Temperatures will be in the 40s through at least 9 a.m. before climbing into the 50s during the late morning. Daytime highs will top out in the upper 60s under mostly sunny skies.

Voters lined up early Tuesday morning outside Westhigh Church in Cary and other Triangle polling places.

Voters line up in Cary

Voters were also out in big numbers at the South Regional Library on South Alston Avenue in Durham.

Election Day, polling places

The fiercely waged U.S. Senate race between Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis and Libertarian challenger Sean Haugh tops the North Carolina ballot. The campaign is the most expensive in the U.S., topping $100 million in spending, and Hagan has held a narrow lead over Tillis in several recent polls.

Republicans are trying to pick up six seats in the Senate to gain complete control over Congress, and North Carolina is seen by many observers as a key part of the GOP efforts.

Among other congressional races, Republican 2nd District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers faces a challenge from pop singer Clay Aiken, and the retirements of Republican 6th District Congressman Howard Coble and Democratic 7th District Congressman Mike McIntyre leave two seats up for grabs. Incumbents are expected to win easily in other U.S. House districts across central North Carolina.

All 170 seats in the General Assembly are up for election, but dozens of incumbents face no opposition. Republicans are trying to hold on to the super-majorities they have in both the House and Senate, while Democrats hope to chip away at those leads to put themselves in better position for the 2016 elections.

Local races vary by county, although many counties have commissioners, sheriffs, school board members and other positions on the ballot.

In Wake County, control of the county Board of Commissioners is at stake, with all four members of the Republican majority seeking re-election. Sheriff Donnie Harrison is seeking another four-year term, while Clerk of Superior Court Lorrin Freeman and defense attorney John Bryant are vying to succeed longtime District Attorney Colon Willoughby.

North Carolina voters also will be asked whether to amend the state constitution to allow criminal defendants to waive their right to a jury trial and have a judge determine if they are guilty. Raleigh voters must decide on whether to issue $92 million in bonds to improve area parks, while school, liquor and community college bonds are on the ballot elsewhere.


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  • trose4 Nov 5, 2014

    BUSYB97 NOV 4, 9:09 P.M.

    How can you declare winners of a race with only 17% of the precincts reporting?? Even if one has 100% so far, with 80%+ to be counted, it could still go any way.

    Exit polls and statistics!

  • Garnerwolf1 Nov 5, 2014

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Applies to politicians. And definitely voters.

  • Gary Lasereyes Nov 5, 2014

    The liberal butthurt on all the message boards has been amazing! Nothing but more excuse making. They still don't get it. They have no idea why they got spanked so severely. But that's what happens when you are out of touch and don't listen to the people.

    Next time libs, don't be so condescending. you are not any better than anyone else even though you seem to think you are

  • Kenneth Jones Nov 4, 2014
    user avatar

    Republicans up to 52 in the Senate tks to the Tillis win.... More to come?

  • A person Nov 4, 2014

    Concede Kay

  • busyb97 Nov 4, 2014

    How can you declare winners of a race with only 17% of the precincts reporting?? Even if one has 100% so far, with 80%+ to be counted, it could still go any way.

  • arfamr1010 Nov 4, 2014

    looks like its time to move...how the heck is Hagan winning? Obama's rubber stamp.

  • mcraineycrazies Nov 4, 2014

    yayy kentucky down, keep on going reds : )

  • KnowsItAll Nov 4, 2014

    View quoted thread

    "Mitch has already won in KY."

    He already held the seat, so no net gain. and really - did anyone expect a democrat to win in KY? this is no big surprise.

  • theliberadicator Nov 4, 2014

    Mitch has already won in KY.

    There's one loss for Clinton.