NC elections office predicts 97% of ballots to be counted by end of Election Day

NORTH CAROLINA — The North Carolina State Board of Elections said it anticipates the results reported at the end of election night will include 97% or more of all ballots cast in the state general election.

This means any remaining ballots such as provisional ballots and absentee ballots that come after Election Day will be counted and added during the post-election canvas period.

>> Make us your Election Day headquarters -- you can watch national and local coverage and results as they come in from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., on Channel 9. On TV-64, we’ll be on from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. with a focus on local races. You can also stream our entire Election Day coverage throughout the day on the WSOC app, as well as watch our live coverage on Apple TV, Roku or Amazon Fire.

More than 4.5 million people have already voted statewide, which is 1.5 million more than in 2016. Of those, 3.6 million voted in-person and 925,000 voted by-mail. That’s more than 61% of registered voters.

In Mecklenburg County, more than 360,000 people voted at early voting sites.

Election officials said unofficial election results will start to become available once all polls across the state have closed.

[READ MORE: Post-election NC procedures and audits]

“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,” Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections said. “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.”

The state board will begin posting election results after the polls close at 7:30 p.m.

Officials said voting hours could be extended at a polling place if the opening was delayed for more than 15 minutes or was interrupted for more than 15 minutes after opening.

Here is an estimated timeline of when results will start to post in North Carolina:

  • 7:30 p.m. -- Polls close
  • 7:30 p.m. to 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. to 9:30 p.m. -- Precinct officials hand-deliver Election Day results to county boards of elections offices
  • 8:30 p.m. to midnight -- Election Day precinct results are reported; reporting continues until all Election Day results are posted

Election officials said the majority of all votes cast in the general election will be reported as “unofficial results” on Nov. 3. All results are considered unofficial until the statewide certification, which is scheduled for Nov. 24.

On election night, election officials anticipate unofficial results for all in-person on-stop early votes, all by-mail absentee votes received by the county boards of elections by 5 p.m. Monday and all Election Day votes.

Election Day votes do not include provisional ballots because they have to be researched after the election to determine voter eligibility.

The election is far from over once election night ends.

In the days after the election, the county boards of elections will count remaining ballots, determine voter eligibility for provisional ballots, conduct post-election audits and any necessary recounts.

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

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