State News

North Carolina elections office previews Election Day count

Posted November 1, 2020 3:07 p.m. EST
Updated November 1, 2020 9:15 p.m. EST

— North Carolina's elections office is predicting that at the end of Election Day it will be able to tally and report at least 97% of all ballots cast.

The N.C. State Board of Elections said in a news release Sunday that it will post results as quickly as possible but that its primary objective will be an accurate count.

There's a good chance Americans won’t know the winner of Tuesday’s presidential election when they go to bed that night. Many states have made it easier to request a mail ballot amid the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about crowded polling places. But mail ballots generally require more time to process than ballots that are cast in person.

In North Carolina, mail-in ballots are not due until Nov. 12 if postmarked by Election Day.

Election officials say the majority of all votes cast in person (early), absentee, or on Election Day are considered ‘unofficial’ until being completely certified Nov. 24. A political expert told WRAL News' Aaron Thomas if the election is too close, the official result could take days to find out.

"It's very likely to be one of the highest turnouts since World War II, at least a bit back before then," said John Aldrich, a professor of political science at Duke University.

"If we're so close, almost every ballot will need to be counted before we know. So it's quite possible North Carolina results won't be known for days."

More than 3.6 million people voted early in-person in North Carolina, and 929,000 voted absentee. The State Board of Elections office anticipates about a million people will vote on Election Day.

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 certification period.

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