At least 97 percent of votes cast in NC to be tallied on election night, officials say

There is also concern that voters have received mixed messaging about the requirement that may...
There is also concern that voters have received mixed messaging about the requirement that may mean their ballot will not be counted.(Live 5)
Published: Nov. 2, 2020 at 6:26 PM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The N.C. State Board of Elections says it anticipates that the results reported by the end of election night will include 97 percent or more of all ballots cast in North Carolina in the 2020 general election.

Remaining ballots, including provisional ballots and absentee by-mail ballots that arrive after Election Day, will be counted and added to the totals during the post-election canvass period.

As they become available after all polls close Tuesday night, unofficial election results will be posted here.

“Please remember that all results reported on election night are unofficial. We will post results as quickly as possible, but our primary objective will be accuracy more than speed,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “State and county elections officials take many steps after every election to ensure all eligible votes are counted and the results are audited and accurate.”

What votes will be counted and reported on election night 2020?

The vast majority of all votes cast in the 2020 general election in North Carolina will be reported as unofficial results on Nov. 3. All results are unofficial until the statewide certification, or canvass, scheduled for Nov. 24, during a meeting of the State Board.

If all goes as expected, the following unofficial results will be reported to the public on election night through the Election Results Dashboard.

  • All in-person one-stop early votes
  • All by-mail absentee votes received by the county boards of elections by 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2
  • All Election Day votes, excluding provisional ballots, which must be researched post-election to determine voter eligibility

The State Board says it will begin posting results publicly after polls close statewide at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

However, the State Board may extend voting hours at a polling place if polls are delayed in opening for more than 15 minutes or are interrupted for more than 15 minutes after opening.

Any polling extension may not be longer than the delay in voting.

No results will be posted until all polls are closed.

The State Board will issue a notice if the State Board meets on Election Day to consider polling hours extensions. The public will be able to listen to the meeting remotely.

Here is an estimated timeline of the expected reporting of unofficial results to the Election Results Dashboard:

  • 7:30 p.m.: Polls close.
  • 7:30 p.m.–9 p.m.: Counties report results of in-person, one-stop early voting and absentee by-mail ballots received by 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2.
  • 7:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.: Precinct officials hand-deliver Election Day results to county boards of elections offices.
  • 8:30 p.m.–midnight: Election Day precinct results are reported; reporting continues until all Election Day results are posted.

What happens after election night?

Elections are far from over on election night.

In the days that follow, the county boards of elections count the remaining ballots, research the eligibility of each provisional ballot, conduct a series of post-election audits, and conduct any necessary recounts.

The State Board conducts additional audits to ensure a fair and accurate count.

These post-election processes culminate in the final certification of results, also called canvass. County boards of elections will hold their canvass meeting at 11 a.m. Nov. 13. The State Board will meet on Nov. 24 to certify the election.

Mail-in absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day will be accepted by county boards of elections until 5 p.m. Nov. 12.

Overseas and military absentee ballots also are accepted through Nov. 12. These ballots will be added to the unofficial results during the canvass process.

Every county conducts a sample hand-to-eye count of ballots in randomly selected precincts and one-stop locations to confirm results tabulated by machine.

Counties must conduct their hand-to-eye counts in public.

County boards of elections will certify their results at public meetings held at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 13. The county board certifies contests and referenda within the county boundaries.

Any mandatory recounts would be conducted by county boards of elections after the county canvass and before the state canvass.

For statewide contests, the vote difference must be 10,000 votes or fewer for a candidate who is the runner-up to demand a recount.

For non-statewide contests, the difference between the candidates must be one percent or less of the total votes cast in the contest.

The recount demand must be in writing and received by the State Board of Elections no later than noon on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

If a recount is demanded, the State Board of Elections office would issue a schedule, and the counties would conduct recounts individually during open meetings.

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