Today is Election Day, meaning it’s your last chance to vote for the next president and about 40 other contests up and down the ballot.
Your vote matters. (I mean it.)
Mecklenburg County could decide how North Carolina swings, and North Carolina could be the decisive state in choosing who our president will be for the next four years.
Only 173,315 votes separated President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016. Only 14,177 votes separated President Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008 — there are more seats in the Spectrum Center.
As someone from solid blue Delaware, the antithesis of a battleground state with its mere three electoral votes, this is exciting.
Trump, Biden, Pence, and Harris have all visited North Carolina multiple times to rally voters and nab the state’s 15 electoral votes. Celebrities have come through, too — comedian Amy Schumer, rapper Common, musician Ted Nugent.
You know what today also marks? The end of campaign emails, texts, and mailers, at least for a little while. That’s reason enough to celebrate.
Here’s everything you need to know for Election Day.
Voter guide: Mecklenburg residents have about 40 contests to vote in from the president and governor to judicial seats and county referendum. That’s a lot to keep track of. Here’s our full guide: The Agenda’s 2020 voter guide.
Where: Unlike the early voting period, you’ll have to vote at your assigned precinct today. Type in your name here to find your polling place and sample ballot.
Hours: Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. So long as you’re in line at or before 7:30 p.m., you’ll be permitted to vote, no matter how long the line is.
Long lines: Lines are typically longer at the start of the day and near the end of the day. Try going during business hours to minimize your wait. Lines may also look a little longer this year because of social distancing and voters spreading out.
Precautions: All voting locations will enforce social distancing in line, provide sanitizer and gloves, provide single-use pens, and have barriers between election workers and voters at check-in tables. All the state board of elections safeguards are listed here.
What if you’re not registered: Sorry, the same-day registration period has ended. If you’re not registered to vote, you cannot vote in this election. Not sure if you’re registered? You can check here.
No ID needed: You’re not required to show identification at the polls.
Voting by mail: If you haven’t returned your absentee ballot yet, you technically have until 5 p.m. on November 3 (today) to do so. But here’s a pro tip: Drop it off in person at the county Board of Elections office at 741 Kenilworth Avenue instead.
What happens when the polls close: Due to the amount of mail-in ballots received in other states this year, we may not have clear answers on the presidential race or other races on Election night. North Carolina anticipates announcing 97 percent of its votes after polls close at 7:30 p.m. (You can follow along here.)
In the days that follow, North Carolina and other states will continue counting mail-in votes before certifying the results. That means that any results you see on Election Night are unofficial. (Pennsylvania, for instance, won’t start counting any of its mail-in votes until 7 a.m. on Tuesday; North Carolina started more than a month ago.) Still, in most races, the unofficial results can give us a good idea of the outcome.
What’s happened so far
Who’s already voted: More than 4.5 million North Carolina residents have voted early or by mail; about half a million of which were cast in Mecklenburg County. That’s about 95 percent of all votes cast in 2016.
Those are pretty incredible numbers. Everything is unprecedented in 2020.
In Mecklenburg County, about 45 percent of the votes cast have been from registered Democrats, 32 percent from unaffiliated voters, and 22 percent from registered Republicans.
What the polls say:
- President: Biden is slightly favored to win North Carolina, according to poll analysis site FiveThirtyEight, but it is still a very close race regardless. Most N.C. polls put Trump and Biden within a few points of one another.
- Governor: Incumbent Democrat Roy Cooper is up by about 7-10 points in the polls against Republican Dan Forest.
- Senate: One of the most talked about and expensive senate races in U.S. history, the Senate race between incumbent Republican Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham is a heated one. Cunningham is currently up in the polls by about 3-5 points.
Latest news updates
- A march to Alamance polls on Saturday ended with police using pepper-spray on protesters, children [News & Observer story / Twitter thread]. Alamance County sheriff’s deputies and Graham police pepper-sprayed people — including a 5-year-old girl, a woman in a wheelchair, and student journalists — at the I Am Change march to the polls. About 12 people were arrested.
- Here’s how much Charlotte’s most powerful have donated to Biden and Trump [Agenda]. Big Trump donors include Wendy Kahn, owner of Charltote Checkers, and Ken Gill, CEO of CPI Security. Big Biden donors include Erskine Bowles, former UNC president, and Ric Elias, CEO of Red Ventures.
- Margins matter for Trump in neck-and-neck N.C. [Politico]. “There’s way too much, like, ‘This county goes this way, this county goes that way,’” said Chris Cooper, a political scientist at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. “But moving a county from red to pink could be the difference between a Biden victory and a Trump victory in North Carolina.”