Midterm voting mostly problem-free in battleground states, voting advocates report

More than 42 million Americans already have voted in the midterms

North Carolinians: Stand together against election deniers and conspiracy theorists

(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

This election Let’s choose freedom over fear, proof over accusations, country over party, and people over politics. 

North Carolinians will disagree on everything from college basketball to which part of the state has the best barbecue, but one thing we’ve always come together around is that our election results should be respected. Each and every one of us has our own special reason for how we cast our vote. And when we go to the polls, we do so with the hope that our preferred candidate comes out victorious. Now, that doesn’t always happen. And that’s okay. Ask any middle schooler old enough to go to their first Hornets game and they’ll tell you that you can’t win ‘em all in life. The same goes for our elections.

Unfortunately, that kind of common sense is rapidly becoming less common. A growing number of elected officials and public figures in North Carolina and beyond have decided that their politics are more important than our democracy. Last election, the country was left shell-shocked after discovering the lengths to which some went to overturn the presidential election results. They claimed, without evidence, that the election had been unfair (these claims have been debunked several times over by government officials, judges, and elected leaders from both parties). In the years since the “Big Lie” hasn’t faded into obscurity. On the contrary, it’s taken root and grown among a group of election-denying extremists looking to gain power by hook or crook.

A recent analysis found that nearly 60 percent of all Americans, including many North Carolinians, will have someone on their ballot this fall who believes that the 2020 elections were stolen. Scarier still, there are several candidates running for major congressional seats in key states who have declared that they won’t commit to accepting election results, should they lose.

Let’s be clear: It’s okay for political candidates to challenge election results – we have an entire legal process to handle those kinds of challenges. What’s not okay is for candidates to reject election results and claim victory without any basis for their actions. Read more

Conspiracy theorists urge voting as late as possible on Election Day to ‘stop the steal’

Despite fragility of abortion rights, NC voter turnout remains strong but not extraordinary at the close of early voting

Campaign signs were numerous outside a Wake County early voting site. Photo: Clayton Henkel

The final push is on and get out the vote efforts shift to Tuesday in an election in which the key for Democrats and Republicans has been to rev up enthusiasm among their most reliable voters.

As early voting wraps up, the vote totals are higher than at this time in the last midterm election, but that’s mainly because the state has more registered voters. Turnout as a percentage is down slightly and, as yet, there are no signs of a red or blue wave.

In-person early voting ends at 3 p.m. Saturday. The total number of mail-in ballots accepted and this year’s 17 day early voting is expected to top 2 million running roughly 50,000 votes ahead of 2018’s 18 day early voting period.

Although there was no statewide race in 2018, turnout was the highest for a midterm election in more than 50 years. This year, with a close U.S. Senate race and critical legislative and judicial seats in the balance, turnout appears similarly strong. But this year’s outcome remains difficult to predict following the 2020 presidential election cycle, which saw record turnout and a big shift in voting patterns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A pattern of normalcy”

Two years ago, more voters chose to vote early, either by mail or in-person. Whether those voters continue to do so or shift back to voting on Election Day is an open question.

Professor Chris Cooper – Photo: WCU

“It’s a question of substitution versus turnout,” Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper said. “Substitution being ‘I’m voting early instead of Election Day’ and turnout being ‘I’m voting early instead of not voting at all.’ There’s just no way to tease that out until Election Day.”

What he is seeing in the voting patterns so far is “a lot of normalcy.”

That’s probably good news for Republicans and underlines the challenge for Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Cheri Beasley and other Democrats in a cycle that’s traditionally tough on the president’s party, he said.

“They need to see a disruption in history, they need to see a different kind of voting pattern. Because this is Biden’s midterms, so we expect Republicans to gain and the Democrats to lose and I don’t see anything in the data thus far that challenge’s that assumption,” he said.

That includes the gender breakdown, which so far remains similar to prior elections despite predictions that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which ended federal protections for abortion, would drive up turnout among women as it has earlier this year in other states with primaries that followed the decision.

Impact of abortion rights debate remains unclear

A Meredith Poll released in late September showed the abortion ruling to be a strong motivator for North Carolina Democrats, but so far women continue to lead men in turnout at roughly the same pace as prior elections.

“Dobbs, thus far, has not led to a massive activation in female voters,” Cooper said. Read more