Have gotten a lot of questions from Twitter users and readers wondering why both the presidential race in North Carolina and the U.S. Senate race between Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham have not been called considering the NCSBE website shows 100% of precincts reported. So I thought I’d explain them in detail (as best I can, based on what I know) in this post.
To get everyone up to speed on where the presidential race currently stands in NC, President Trump has 2,732,084 votes to Joe Biden’s 2,655,383. That’s a difference of 76,701 votes. In the Senate race, Tillis has 2,640,379 votes to Cunningham’s 2,543,672, with the difference between them being 96,707 votes.
The race hasn’t been called yet because there are 117,000 absentee ballots yet to be accounted for. And because of the September backroom shenanigans involving Democrat super-lawyer Marc Elias, NC’s Democrat Attorney General Josh Stein (who is on the ballot, natch), and the Democrat-controlled state board of elections, the deadline for receiving absentee ballots after Election Day was changed from 3 days to 9 days.
In other words, a ballot that is postmarked by Election Day can be received as late as November 12th (next Thursday) and still count.
Republican leaders in the state house and senate filed a lawsuit not long after they found out about the changes Democrats had (illegally) made to NC election law but the Supreme Court allowed the revised deadline set by Elias, Stein, and the NCBSE to stand.
Some of these outstanding ballots are likely from people who requested a ballot but then decided to vote in person. NCSBE executive director Karen Brinson Bell was asked some questions today about that possibility and here’s what she had to say:
Q: Does the 117k ballots include those that went and voted in person?
A: It does not include anyone who voted in person during the early voting period, however, it may contain votes from people who voted in person on Election Day. #ncpol
— WUNC (@wunc) November 4, 2020
Brinson Bell also mentioned that provisional ballots would also need to be gathered and reviewed. She didn’t have numbers on how many provisional ballots had been cast, but the numbers are supposed to be reported by noon Thursday:
Per @NCSBE Director Karen Brinson Bell, number of estimated outstanding ballot still stands at 117,000.
Board still working to gather number of provisional ballots, but under state law, report on the number of those ballots is due by noon Thursday. #NCpol
— Tyler Dukes (@mtdukes) November 4, 2020
While the state board of elections did indicate during the press conference today that they would be updating that 117,000 number periodically to reflect the number of ballots they found out were actually cast in-person, they made it clear that it was unlikely we’d have updated numbers on vote totals before next Thursday or Friday:
On Q about when additional absentee ballot results will be released, Brinson Bell says not until the county boards meet and vote to accept absentee ballots. Currently, most counties aren’t meeting until 11/12 or 11/13 #Election2020 #ncpol
— Nick Ochsner (@NickOchsnerWBTV) November 4, 2020
Here is the party breakdown on the outstanding absentee ballots. Remember that it is not known at this point how many of those ended up voting in person (or not at all):
Party breakdown of the outstanding absentee ballots remaining in North Carolina: (again unlikely all -117,000 will be cast.) https://t.co/W8fPX5ZWJz
— Brian Murphy (@MurphinDC) November 4, 2020
— Brian Murphy (@MurphinDC) November 4, 2020
Needless to say, the board’s declaration that updated vote counts likely won’t be available until next Thursday or Friday doesn’t inspire confidence in the transparency of the process:
— Jim Blaine (@JimBlaine) November 4, 2020
It's a really bad idea for the election results in NC to go into a black box for 9 days. This eschews transparency & undermines public confidence in the outcome. Is it too much to ask to have county boards and the state board meet sooner? This is why they exist, after all. #NCPOL https://t.co/n4vfMtYMk2
— Brent Woodcox (@BrentWoodcox) November 4, 2020
It’s gonna be a long next several days in the state as lawyers from all sides gear up to do their thing and more questions are no doubt raised about the process. It’s a wait and see game at this point for those of us in the cheap seats, but I’ll keep everyone posted when and if anything of significance develops between now and then.