The unusual nature of the special elections lead to lower turnout. Overall turnout dropped from over 50 percent in 2018 to just 26 percent in the 2019 races.
“Since the state went to the current system of filling congressional vacancies right after World War II, this is the first time there’s been a special election for Congress in an odd numbered year,” Cohen said. “So this is all very unusual. North Carolina does not have very many special elections like a lot of other states do, so this is very, very unusual."
Cohen also said he thinks the competitiveness and controversy in the ninth district has led to greater voter engagement compared to the third district.
“Although there’s been a lot of media attention to this because of the fraud last year, now there’s very different levels of interest in the ninth and third districts. I believe that in the ninth district they had around 89,000 early and mail votes, and in the third district it was something like 36,000," he said. "They have the same populations obviously, but there’s only half as many votes cast in the third district because there isn’t all these millions of dollars being spent and there isn’t as much publicity."
The ninth and third districts included areas affected by Hurricane Dorian, and NCSBE officials have been working to accommodate voting for those affected. Karen Brinson Bell, N.C. elections director, encouraged voting in a press release on Monday.
“Events like those we experienced the past few days show that elections officials don’t stop, even when a hurricane knocks at the door,” Brinson Bell said. “I encourage registered voters in the third and ninth congressional districts and the City of Charlotte to vote on Tuesday if you have not done so already. Your polling places are set up, and election officials are ready to greet you.”
Only one precinct, the Columbia precinct in Tyrrell County from the third district, changed locations to accommodate emergency efforts for Hurricane Dorian.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence made stops in the ninth district to campaign for Dan Bishop on Monday.
“Beautiful evening in Fayetteville tonight! Big day in North Carolina tomorrow. Make sure you get out and VOTE for Dan Bishop in #NC09 and Greg Murphy in #NC03!” Trump said in a tweet on Monday.
While Murphy replaces a Republican-held seat from the 2018 election, Bishop will fill a vacancy left since the election fraud controversy in the ninth district, adding one more representative to the Republican minority in the U.S. House.
RNC spokesperson Kevin Knoth congratulated Murphy and Bishop for their victories in a statement on Tuesday night.
“Congratulations to Greg Murphy and Dan Bishop on their victories in today’s special elections,” Knoth said in the statement.
Knoth predicted that the results from last night's elections will bode well for Republican performance in 2020.
Tom Perez, chairperson of the DNC, also released a statement on election night.
“Dan McCready ran an extraordinary race, and although the final outcome isn’t what we hoped for, he stood up for Democratic values and inspired voters across North Carolina’s 9th District,” Perez said. “These close results in a district Trump won by double digits should send waves of fear through the Republican Party at every level.”
Although Perez conceded that Bishop won the close election on behalf of the DNC, the results will not be certified until Monday due to outstanding provisional ballots and outstanding mail-in ballots.
“There’s four more days for mail-in ballots to come in and be counted, plus provisional ballots,” Cohen said. “So if the election is very close, it will be until next Monday for the results to be certified and all those last minute absentees and provisional ballots are counted.”