NC Voter Guide 2020: Here’s What You Need To Know If You Haven’t Voted Yet

NC Voter Guide 2020: Here’s What You Need To Know If You Haven’t Voted Yet

In case you hadn’t heard by now, elections are already happening. Early voting started last week, and Election Day is a couple of weeks from now. Do you need an NC voter guide? We’ve got you covered.

The race for the White House (between Republicans President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and Democrats former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris) naturally grabs all the headlines and sucks a majority of the available bandwidth in our brains. But there are plenty of congressional, state and judicial races that are just as important.

We’re gonna take a few minutes to go over how to vote early, how to vote on Election Day, who’s running for what office, and what you need to know about the races. 

So, let’s get into it:

The When and the What

Early Voting window: Oct. 15-31 (8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.) 

Election Day: Nov. 3 (6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.)

What if I missed the Oct. 9 registration deadline?

Check the Voter Search Tool on the State Board of Elections to verify that you are registered to vote. If you aren’t, that’s OK. 

North Carolina residents can register during the early voting window at polling sites and vote on the same day. 

To register through the one-stop early voting process, a North Carolina citizen needs to fill out a voter registration application and provide any of the following at the polling site: 

  • North Carolina drivers license
  • photo ID from a government agency with the correct name and current address
  • a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or another government document with the voter’s name and address

For college students in the state, you can register using a college photo ID and proof that you live on campus.

What is the process for absentee ballots?

You simply need to request an absentee ballot from the state Board of Elections. The deadline for requesting absentee ballots is 5 p.m. on Oct. 27. 

Ballots can be returned either by mail or by physically taking them to an early voting site. If you are mailing in a ballot, it must be postmarked for Nov. 3 or any date before and the state needs to receive it no later than Nov. 12.

The usual deadline for the state to receive an absentee ballot is three days after the general election. According to a story from Politico, the State Board of Elections extended the deadline to nine days after election day this year because a higher number of absentee ballots have been requested due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Republican leaders sought to reinstate the three-days-after deadline, but a 12-3 decision from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied that request.

There are multiple methods available for voters to track their absentee ballots online.

How many ballots have been cast?

The State Board of Elections website offers daily updates about the number of registered voters, ballots cast through early voting, requests made for absentee ballots, absentee ballots cast.

A check on those numbers early Oct. 21 provided the following information:

Registered voters: 7,308,235

One-stop early voting ballots cast: 1,416,900

Absentee ballots requested: 1,386,489

Absentee ballots cast: 658,084

Image courtesy of René DeAnda on Unsplash.

National Races

President-Vice President

Who’s running: President Donald Trump-Vice President Mike Pence (Republican); Vice President Joe Biden-Sen. Kamala Harris (Democrat); Don Blankenship-William Mohr (Constitution); Howie Hawkins-Angela Walker (Green); Jo Jorgenson-Jeremy Cohen (Libertarian)

What you need to know: Honestly, there isn’t enough room to tell you what you need to know about the candidates in this race. What there is enough room for is this: the 2020 presidential election feels like the most important presidential election in the lifetimes of a lot of Americans.

U.S. Senate

Who’s running: Sen. Thom Tillis (Republican); Cal Cunningham (Democrat); Shannon Bray (Libertarian); Kevin Hayes (Constitution)

What you need to know: A lot has happened in this race a few weeks ago. Tillis announced he tested positive for Covid-19, and it was discovered Cunningham had an extramarital affair.

Polls found on FiveThirtyEight and Real Clear Politics show Cunningham leads Tillis, but we know now that polls are just snapshots in time and never should be used to predict the outcome of an election.

U.S. House of Representatives

Who’s running: Too many to list, but 30 people are running for North Carolina’s 13 seats in the House of Representatives.

What you need to know: All of that can be found in North Carolina News Daily’s series of district-by-district breakdowns. If you missed any of that, we’ve got you covered. Check out our 1st District, 2nd District, 3rd District, 4th District, 5th District, 6th District, 7th District, 8th District, 9th District, 10th District, 11th District, 12th District and 13th District coverage.

Photo by Louis Velazquez on Unsplash

State Races


Who’s running: Gov. Roy Cooper (Democrat, incumbent); Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (Republican); Steven J. DiFiore (Libertarian); Al Pisano (Constitution)

What You Need To Know: This race boils down to where Cooper and Forest stand on the method for navigating the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic recovery in North Carolina.

Cooper and Forest held their only debate last week. Cooper pointed out Forest’s continued violation state guidelines regarding social distancing or wearing masks while on the campaign trail. Forest said wearing masks should be a personal choice instead of mandated by the government.

According to The News & Observer, the expansion of the Medicaid program related to the Covid-19 pandemic is a major point in the campaign. Cooper wants to increase the amount of people eligible for coverage under the program, and Forest wants insurance companies to lower costs.

Cooper served as the state’s attorney general from 2001-17 before he won the gubernatorial election in 2016.

This is Forest’s second term as lieutenant governor. He was elected to the position in 2012 and worked with former Gov. Pat McCrory.

Lieutenant Governor

Who’s running: Yvonne Lewis Holley (Democrat); Mark Robinson (Republican)

What You Need To Know: The first Black lieutenant governor in the state’s history will be elected this year regardless of who wins.

Holley represents Wake County in the state House of Representatives. A story from WXII in Winston-Salem talks about her views on school choice, defunding the police and reforming the criminal justice system.

This is Robinson’s first run at political office, according to a story from WXII. Robinson sits on the National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors. He also has received attention for past social media posts.

Attorney General

Who’s running: Jim O’Neill (Republican); Attorney General Josh Stein (Democrat, incumbent)

What You Need To Know: Stein was elected to his current office in 2016. Prior to that, he served in the state Senate from 2008-16. Stein’s campaign website says his priorities are promoting public safety and public health, protecting consumers, and safeguarding air and water quality.

O’Neill has served as the district attorney for Forsyth County since 2009. According to a September 2019 story from the Winston-Salem Journal, O’Neill said he supports the legalization of medical marijuana. O’Neill ran for attorney general in 2016 but failed to make it past the primary election.

N.C. Supreme Court

What you need to know: Three of the seven seats on the state Supreme Court are up for election this year. This includes the race for Chief Justice between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Paul Newby. 

Beasley has served on the N.C. Supreme Court since 2012. Gov. Roy Cooper appointed her to the Chief Justice position in 2019, making her the first Black woman in the history of the court to hold that position. 

Newby has been on the N.C. Supreme Court since 2004. This makes him the court’s longest-tenured member

Two associate justice seats on the state Supreme Court are also up for grabs. Those races are: Phil Berger Jr. (R) vs. Lucy N. Inman (D) for Seat 2 and Tamara Barringer (R) and Mark Davis (D) for Seat 4.

Berger and Inman both currently serve on the state Court of Appeals. Inman was elected to the court in 2014, and Berger was elected to the court in 2016.

Davis was elected to the state Court of Appeals in 2012 and was appointed to his seat on the state Supreme Court in March 2019. Barringer represented District 17 in the N.C. Senate from 2013-18 and does not list any judicial experience on her campaign website.

N.C. Court of Appeals

What you need to know: Five of the 13 seats are up for election this year. Those races are:

  • Tricia Shields (D) vs. April Wood (R) for Seat 4
  • Lora Cubbage (D) vs. Fred Gord (R) for Seat 5
  • Chris Dillon (R) vs. Gray Styers (D) for Seat 6
  • Jeff Carpenter (R) vs. Reuben Young (D) for Seat 7
  • Chris Brook (D) vs. Jefferson Griffin (R) for Seat 13

To stay current on voting news or learn more about the 2020 elections, please visit our Law section.