Latest: Polls close across most of NC
Posted November 3, 2020 4:00 a.m. EST
Updated November 3, 2020 8:53 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in North Carolina. Check back for hour-by-hour coverage and updates all day.
8:45 p.m.: The North Carolina National Guard's Cyber Security Response Force is working with state elections officials to ensure the vote counts in North Carolina are accurate and free of outside interference.
"We greatly appreciate the assistance of the North Carolina National Guard and all of our state and federal partners in monitoring our election infrastructure,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “Successful elections take a team effort, and they are integral members of our election security team."
The Department of Homeland Security identified election infrastructure as critical infrastructure after the 2016 election.
"We’re looking at everything that’s happening on the networks, and we’re identifying if there’s anything that should be there so we can go ahead and essentially stop it or prevent it from occurring in the first place,” team leader Capt. Alexander Reinwald said. “To us, a successful mission means that our state and county networks are protected from malicious activity and network disruptions so that we can maintain the integrity of the electoral process."
7:30 p.m.: Polls have closed across most of North Carolina, but vote totals for absentee ballots and early voting won't be released until at least 8:15 p.m. State policy calls for holding results back until all polls have closed, and 10 precincts were given extra time because problems earlier in the day caused delays.
6:40 p.m.: The State Board of Elections have voted to extend voting hours for three precincts in Warren County, two in Sampson County and one in Cabarrus County because of various problems each experienced earlier in the day.
Precinct officials entered the wrong computer codes to start computers up Tuesday morning at all three Warren County precincts. Voting was extended by 25 minutes at the Arcola Volunteer Fire Department in Warrenton, 23 minutes at Vaughan Elementary School in Macon and by 30 minutes at Zion Methodist Church in Norlina.
The polling site at Flowes Store Volunteer Fire Station in Concord opened on time, but a computer malfunction halted voting for 39 minutes later in the morning.
In Sampson County, voters complained to state elections officials about problems at three precincts, which local officials disputed. Still, to guarantee that no voters were deprived the chance to cast a ballot, the state board agreed to extend voting at Halls Fire Station in Clinton by 40 minutes and at Sampson Community College by 21 minutes. They couldn't substantiate any disruption at Westbrook Community Building in Newton Grove and declined to extend voting there past 7:30 p.m.
The state board voted earlier in the afternoon to extend voting for four other precincts.
4:30 p.m.: North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is warning voters to ignore illegal robocalls that are spreading misinformation about Election Day.
"DO NOT LISTEN to these robocall voicemails! They want to steal your vote. Don't let them. Today is your last chance to vote," Stein tweeted.
In an interview with WRAL News, Stein called the robocalls "illegal voter suppression," noting they are designed to discourage people from voting.
"We want every voter who is eligible and wants to vote and hasn't voted yet to go out there and cast their ballots," he said.
4 p.m.: Wake County is on track to break its voter participation record, spokeswoman Stacy Beard said. Final numbers on ballots cast and voter turnout won't be available until after the polls close Tuesday night.
With more than 167,000 absentee-by-mail ballots accepted so far and more than 373,000 early voters, county elections director Gary Sims said it's by far a record turnout. In 2016, the county had about 75 percent of registered voters participate.
"There's no doubt we're going to go above that this year," Sims said, noting that the early and absentee voting have made Election Day voting smooth.
3:30 p.m.: Jill Biden, the wife of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, stopped at the polls site at Mills Park Elementary School in Cary to greet voters and thank poll workers.
"Our next first lady," someone shouted as people gathered outside the site cheered.
"This is your campaign," Biden responded. "That's what's going to change, hopefully tonight – a new direction in America, a new leadership.
3 p.m.: A man was arrested at a Mecklenburg County polling place, according to NBC affiliate WCNC.
Police said Justin Dunn, 36, voted at the site Tuesday morning and then loitered around the parking lot. A precinct official asked him to leave at about 10:30 a.m. and barred him from returning to the site, saying he was intimidating other voters. Dunn was legally carrying an unconcealed gun at the time, police said.
Volunteers said several voters left the site when they saw him. Democratic 12th District Congresswoman Alma Adams, who was speaking at the precinct, was whisked away from the area, and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles also left, Charlotte Agenda tweeted.
About two hours later, police were called to the polling place because Dunn had returned. He was arrested and charged with trespassing.
2 p.m.: The State Board of Elections has voted to extend voting hours for two precincts in Sampson County and one each in Guilford and Cabararrus counties, primarily because technical issues delayed the opening of those polling sites.
Voting will go until 8:15 p.m. at Plainview Fire Station near Dunn and until 7:54 p.m. at Sampson County Adult Daycare in Clinton. Voting was extended until 8:04 p.m. at Bluford Elementary School in Greensboro and until 7:47 p.m. at First Missionary Baptist Church in Concord.
Both Sampson County precincts had printer difficulties, preventing them from providing voters with verification forms, officials said, Precinct officials at the Plainview Fire Station tried to fix the problem themselves instead of calling county officials for help, delaying the opening even longer, county officials said.
The Cabarrus County precinct also experienced computer problems, while the delay in Guilford County was a human one. Officials said the chief judge of the Bluford Elementary site didn't arrive until 6:25 a,m. and then went through a "very deliberative" process of getting the poll opened, delaying it for more than half an hour.
All four extension decisions were on a 3-2 party-line vote. Republican members Stacy "Four" Eggers and Tommy Tucker argued that few, if any, voters were inconvenienced by the delays, so long extensions were unnecessary.
Because state policy calls for no election results to be released until all polls are closed, no North Carolina vote totals will be released before 8:15 p.m.
1 p.m.: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham stopped by a Durham polling site to greet voters and again evaded questions about his extramarital affair, which has bogged down his campaign in recent weeks.
"I'm staying focused on the issues that North Carolina voters are bringing to me," Cunningham said.
Republican U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis made a similar stop at a polling place in his hometown of Cornelius.
12:45 p.m.: Wake County Board of Elections spokeswoman Stacy Beard said there are no lengthy lines in the county, even at the busiest precincts. The county has 206 polling places. Beard said there were some lines early in the morning, when sites opened, but they later tapered off.
12:15 p.m.: Lines were short at the polling site at the Kiwanis Recreation Center in Cumberland County on Tuesday afternoon. Election officials said that 68% of Cumberland County voters have already cast ballots. There have been no reports of major problems at the voting sites in Cumberland County.
11:30 a.m.: Dixie Hernandez, from Durham, is 63 years old and voted for the first time on Tuesday. Donald Trump was the reason she decided to vote this year.
"He's bad. I don't want him," she said. "This is the first time I've ever voted in my life, and it was to get him out of office."
Hernandez said her ballot was all blue.
"I don't like the way he treats Mexicans when they come here, separating them from their kids," she said. Hernandez is Native American and Mexican.
11 a.m.: Four polling sites opened late in North Carolina:
- Plainview Fire Station in Sampson County
- Northeast Clinton, Sampson County Adult Daycare
- First Missionary Baptist Church in Carbarrus County
- Bluford Elementary School in Guilford County
State election officials will meet at 1 p.m. to discuss whether or not to extend the voting hours of these three polling sites.
10:30 a.m.: State Board of Elections director Karen Brinson Bell encouraged all registered voters who haven't yet secured their vote to do so before 7:30 p.m. Around 97% of North Carolina votes are expected to be counted by Tuesday night, although the results won't be considered official until the statewide canvass on Nov. 24. During that time, election officials will count absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 but received between now and Nove. 12, as well as provisional ballots cast Tuesday.
Although "minor issues are going to happen," Bell said 4.6 million ballots have been cast with few reports of problems or voter intimidation in the state.
A total of 2,663 polling places are open on Tuesday in North Carolina, and 62% of registered voters have already cast their ballots in the 2020 election.
10 a.m.: Kimberly Guilfoyle, an adviser to President Donald Trump, said on Tuesday that the campaign felt "good" about North Carolina. She encouraged people who were on the fence about voting to get to the polls.
"We want to run up the score for President Trump because we want to deliver on the promises he has made to this country," Guilfoyle said, "and really get that economic engine roaring back again for the country."
Guilfoyle said that Election Day would be pivotal to make sure that North Carolina is red.
"We're looking forward to a big victory," she said.
9:30 a.m.: WRAL Data Trackers found that, of the people who designated their gender, nearly half a million more women than men voted by mail or voted early in person in North Carolina this year. The majority of ballots already cast were by people who voted in person during early voting.
8:45 a.m.: Several WRAL News viewers have reported technical issues at voting sites across North Carolina:
- Southeast Raleigh High School on Rock Quarry Road in Raleigh
- Governor's Village in Chatham County
- Several voting sites in Sampson County
- Several sites in Warren County
There was a glitch at the Governor's Village polling site on Tuesday morning, where the printers and computer system were showing that voters who had just checked in had already voted. Election officials said there were no delays at the voting site.
Travis Fain, WRAL statehouse reporter, said that, if ballot tabulators are down, ballots are stored in a secure box at each polling site. Technical issues are normal on Election Day, he said.
Technical issues at the Southeast Raleigh High polling site have been resolved. There was an issue with the machine that collects ballots, according to officials.
8:30 a.m.: The campaigns will continue to visit North Carolina up until the last minute that polls close. Jill Biden, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, will be in Wake County on Tuesday. Jill Biden will make a stop at a Cary polling site to speak with voters and thank poll workers.
8 a.m.: At the polling site at Durham County Southwest Regional Library, there is no wait. Lines may appear to be out the door because of social distancing, but they are moving fairly quickly, WRAL reporter Nia Harden said. Edward Marshall, Durham resident, was in line early on Tuesday morning to cast his ballot.
"I'm from the old school, I want mine to count," Marshall said. "That early voting I'm a little nervous about."
Marshall said that this was one of the largest elections in his time he's voted in.
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7 a.m.: Election workers at the polling site at the Chapel Hill Public Library said there are only a few hundred registered voters at that precinct left to cast their ballots. Most people assigned to vote at that precinct cast their ballots early, election workers said. Only people who are registered to vote can cast a ballot on Election Day. Already, 100 million people have cast their ballots nationwide.
6:30 a.m.: Polls are open at voting sites across North Carolina. Voters have until 7:30 p.m. to cast their ballots. Lines are growing across the Triangle as people are hoping to cast their ballots before work.
"This election is so important," High said. "I just, I wanted to be here. It didn't matter how cold or how early, I wanted to be here. First in line if I needed to, whatever. I just needed to make sure I was here to cast my vote."
6 a.m.: Short lines are already forming across the Triangle at polling sites. Many more polling sites are open on Election Day compared to early voting. For example, 60 voting precincts will open in Durham County.
5:30 a.m.: A few early-bird voters are already waiting in line at polling places in Raleigh and Durham. Temperatures are near-freezing in the Triangle, and a freeze warning is in effect until 8:30 a.m.
Election Day is here
The campaigning – the rallies, the debates, the image ads, the attack ads – is over. Even much of the voting is over. But Tuesday gives voters in North Carolina and the rest of the nation one final chance to have their voices heard in this year's elections.
Races from president, U.S. senator and governor down to county commissioners and school board members are on the ballot.
Polls are open statewide from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., and anyone in line at that point will be allowed to vote.
"We are ready for Election Day in North Carolina," state elections director Karen Brinson Bell said.
Unlike early voting, only registered voters can cast ballots on Election Day, and voters must go to their assigned precinct polling place. Those who go to the wrong polling site can cast a provisional ballot, which elections officials will later determine whether to count.
Although a photo identification requirement to vote was added to the state constitution two years ago, it remains tied up amid legal challenges. So, no ID is needed to vote Tuesday, but voters will be asked to confirm their names and addresses.
Masks also aren't required at the polls, but they are encouraged to limit the spread of coronavirus. Polling sites are providing masks to anyone who wants and needs one, and they also provide each voter with a pen – or a stylus for touch-screen voting machines. Social distancing will be enforced, and hand sanitizer will be available.
Extra cleaning being done at the polls to limit the spread of the virus could slow voting and lead to longer lines.
Voters can take reference materials, such as a printed or online voter guide, into the voting booth, but they cannot call anyone while voting or take a photo of their ballot.
The U.S. Department of Justice plans to have poll watchers in Wake and Mecklenburg counties to monitor Election Day activities and ensure nobody's right to vote is infringed. Complaints can be filed online or by calling 800-253-3931.
Anyone who still wants to cast an absentee ballot by mail to avoid voting in person during the pandemic has two options: Hand deliver it to their county board of elections office by 5 p.m. or get it in the mail and make sure it's postmarked. Only ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by local elections officials by Nov. 12 will be counted.
People can track the status of their mailed ballots online to verify that they get counted.
State officials are eyeing a couple of records, including topping the 4.7 million people who voted in the 2016 election and the record 70 percent turnout from 2008. To hit the 70 percent mark, about 585,000 people would need to vote on Tuesday.
According to the State Board of Elections, about 139,900 absentee ballots of the nearly 1.1 million requested are still outstanding.
Brinson Bell said Monday that the absentee ballots that haven't come in yet and provisional ballots will be the only votes not counted on Tuesday night in North Carolina. Between Election Day voting, early voting and the more than 950,000 absentee ballots already turned in, she estimated 97 percent of the state's vote totals will be released late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
"Our primary objective will be accuracy [of the vote count] more than speed." she said.
She noted that, after polls close, poll workers need to sanitize the site and then drive the results from their precinct to the county elections office, where they are then uploaded to the state elections website.
"We will be as efficient as we can, but again, our focus will be on accuracy," she said. "We may be late into the night, but we will be as expeditious as we can"
Even with the small percentage of votes remaining uncounted after election night, all results remain unofficial until the state canvass on Nov. 24. That gives counties 10 days after the Nov. 12 deadline for mailed absentee ballots to handle any recounts and finalize tallies in every race.