As Election Day dawned across the state, voters bundled up a bit and trickled in as poll workers braced for a long day ahead. Polls opened at 6:30 a.m. and will remain open until 7:30 p.m. Voters in line as of 7:30 p.m. will be able to cast a ballot. Weather across the state is expected to be clear and in the high 60s throughout the day.
“The meteorologists have waved their magic wand, and we are looking at good weather across the state,” said State Board of Elections Director Karen Brinson Bell. “Our folks are ready. They’ve had additional training, additional resources put forward. We are not in the same pandemic situation, so we are ready and optimistic.”
In a press conference Monday afternoon, Brinson Bell said that more than 2.1 million votes have been cast by mail-in and “one-stop” early voting. Democrat voters turned out in force in the last weekend of the early voting period, closing much of the gap after the party’s EV turnout was below 2018 and 2022 numbers.
Despite growing rhetoric on the campaign trail that voter intimidation is a heightened threat to the democratic process this year, the NCSBE says it has received just 15 complaints of voter intimidation at the polls, similar to the number reported during the midterms and other elections. However, Brinson Bell emphasized to reporters that poll workers are trained and should be treated with civility.
“We have about 15 situations that we are looking into further at this point, and we will determine whether they need to be elevated beyond the State Board of Elections,” she said. Elevating the complaints would likely mean sending them to the Department of Justice for potential civil rights violations.
Most incidents took place in electioneering areas of the polls, sometimes between campaigners, and others with poll staffers. The most egregious complaint so far was from Columbus County, where a poll worker from a “one-stop” early voting site was delivering materials to the county Board of Elections and was allegedly videotaped by someone who followed her all the way to her neighborhood. So far, for 2.1 million votes, 15 complaints don’t seem to indicate a widespread problem.
“I don’t think this is an abnormal amount, compared to other fairly large elections. and given that we have 100 counties and had 17 days of early voting. We are going to take 15 as not overly concerning, although some of the issues are overly concerning and we want people to understand that we need a level of civility,” said Brinson Bell.
“I’m going to take 15 for what they are, and see it as a good sign, but I’m not letting my guard down,” she added.
In the last week of the campaign Democrat candidates have embraced the “threat to democracy” argument to augment their focus on abortion access. The Planned Parenthood PAC spent $2 million on an ad campaign in 11 states, including North Carolina, in the final days.
Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley had a rally Monday night with Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper. Afterward, she appeared on MSNBC with far-left pundit Rachel Maddow.
“We are excited about the energy and enthusiasm in this race,” Beasley said on Maddow’s show Monday night. “The constitutionally protected right to an abortion is a real issue here. The majority of North Carolinians, like the majority of Americans, support the framework as outlined in Roe versus Wade.”
She also said that Republican candidate Ted Budd did not vote to certify the results of the 2020 election and repeated the current Democrat message that Budd and Republicans are a threat.
“It is important that we have a senator who believes in democracy and is going to fight hard for it, and not one who is trying to overthrow the election and undermine democracy,” she told Maddow.
Meantime, Budd and other Republicans have focused their campaign messages on inflation, crime, and parental empowerment in education. Budd rallied with volunteers, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, Senate leader Phil Berger, and other party leaders at the NCGOP headquarters on Monday night.
“People are taking about inflation, crime, education. Everything that Cheri Beasley would do and has done on those issues as North Carolina’s Supreme Court justice, would be to make things worse, especially when it comes to law enforcement,” Budd said on Fox Business’ “Mornings with Maria Bartiromo” on Tuesday,
Budd pointed to Beasley’s time as a public defender as evidence that she would be soft on crime in Congress.
“She’s thrown out indictments for sex offenders, she’s defended cop killers, and she would be in lockstep with Joe Biden, who has done everything to make this country worse in the last two years. That’s what people are coming out to vote on today.”
In the latest polls, Budd is running ahead of Beasley, 50% to 45%.
“A red wave isn’t something you watch,” said Budd. “It’s something you make happen.”
To find your polling place, visit the NCBE’s Voter Search or the Polling Place Search. To see who will be on your ballot and research ahead of time, the NCSBE provides your sample ballot through the Voter Search tool.