The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday November 27th

Election Day is over. What comes next for North Carolina?

A member of the crowd at Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest's election night party wears a Trump 2020 hat on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
Buy Photos A member of the crowd at Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest's election night party wears a Trump 2020 hat on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Election Day is over, which means all ballots in North Carolina have officially been cast. But they're not quite done being counted.

Here's what this means for the next few days. 

Where do races stand? 

Gov. Roy Cooper has declared victory over his opponent Dan Forest, winning by 4.42 percent, according to unofficial results. 

But many other races down the ballot are too close to call, according to unofficial results from the N.C. Board of Elections. 

  • President Donald Trump has a slight lead of 1.41 percent over former Vice President Joe Biden in North Carolina, but there are only 76,701 ballots separating them. 
  • U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., has a lead of 1.79 percent over Democrat Cal Cunningham, separated by 96,707 votes. 
  • Several council of state races, such as the race for attorney general, auditor and commissioner of labor, are also very close, separated by less than 100,000 votes. 
  • In the race for N.C. Supreme Court chief justice, Republican incumbent Paul Newby leads over Democrat Cheri Beasley by 0.08 percent, another race that could change as more ballots are counted. 

Why haven't all ballots in North Carolina been counted yet? 

There are approximately 117,000 outstanding absentee ballots in North Carolina. This means there are 117,000 voters who requested an absentee ballot and did not return it, although the number does not account for voters who chose to vote in person on Election Day. 

These votes have yet to be counted. In North Carolina, absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 3 will be accepted by the North Carolina State Board of Elections until Nov. 12. 

When will we know the results of these outstanding absentee ballots? 

Jason Roberts, a UNC political science professor and member of the Orange County Board of Elections, said most counties won't count these outstanding absentee ballots until Nov. 12 or 13, right before county boards of elections certify results. 

Karen Brinson Bell, the executive director of the State Board of Elections, said at a Wednesday press conference this means that North Carolina's unofficial results most likely won't change until Nov. 12. Therefore, North Carolinians likely won't know who won close races, such as the presidential race or the U.S. Senate race, until then.

What about provisional ballots? 

Voters in North Carolina receive provisional ballots if there are questions about their qualification or eligibility to vote. These ballots are then held as election officials research their voter eligibility. Election results can't be finalized until all eligible provisional ballots are counted. 

Brinson Bell said at the press conference that the State Board of Elections expects to make a report on provisional ballots by Thursday at noon. 

When will we know who won the presidential race in the U.S.? 

Roberts said the outcome of the presidential race depends on a few states that have not been called that could get Biden or Trump to 270 electoral votes, such as Michigan, Arizona and Nevada. He said he expects to know who wins the presidency within the next few days. 

For live updates on election results, click here. To stay up to date with The Daily Tar Heel's election coverage, visit our Election Center


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