In-person early voting in N.C. begins today | Eastern North Carolina Now | On Thursday morning voters across North Carolina have the opportunity to cast their ballot for the 2022 midterm elections.

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    Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is CJ Staff.

    On Thursday morning voters across North Carolina have the opportunity to cast their ballot for the 2022 midterm elections. The early voting period ends on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 3 p.m. The N.C. State Board of Elections increased the number of early voting sites this year, with 359 sites open across the state compared to 307 in 2020. The state reports 65% of voters cast their ballot in person during the early voting period that year.

    "The 100 county boards of elections have spent months preparing for the start of in-person voting for the important 2022 general election," said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. "The bipartisan election officials who work in each early voting site are prepared for a smooth voting process and to ensure the ballots of all eligible voters are counted."

    Before heading to the polls, voters can find their sample ballot at the NCSBE website. In 2016, nearly 1 million people who cast a presidential ballot did not vote in the N.C. Supreme Court race, and this year those Supreme Court races are pivotal. Under state law, people may register and vote at the same time during the early voting period. Those who requested an absentee ballot may also deliver it to an early voting site in their county. Curbside voting is also available for eligible individuals at all early voting sites.

    Among the most closely watched races in the nation, North Carolina's contest for U.S. Senate between Republican Ted Budd and Democrat Cheri Beasley has remained tight. In recent weeks, polls show Budd appears to be gaining ground over Beasley, with one new poll giving him a 6% edge. Budd also announced this week that his campaign enters the last few weeks having raised more than $4.7 million in the third quarter. The Budd campaign has $2.9 million cash on hand. Democrats have donated heavily to secure the Senate seat for Beasley. Raising more than $13 million in the last three months, Beasley now has the second-largest campaign war chest ever in North Carolina, behind Democrat Cal Cunningham, who lost to incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis in 2020. However, the Beasley campaign has also outspent Budd, nearly 4-to-1.

    Other very closely watched races include two N.C. Supreme Court seats. The state's highest court has a 4-3 Democrat majority coming into November. If Republicans flip one of the seats, it would lean Republican. In the two races, Democrat candidates Lucy Inman and incumbent Samuel "Jimmy" Ervin IV are outraising their Republicans opponents, but Republican candidates Trey Allen and Richard Dietz are outperforming Democrats in polls. To read up on their viewpoints, check Carolina Journal's coverage here.

    While high inflation and slowed growth under the Biden administration stoked Republicans' messaging, the races have remained tight. Still, N.C. voters appear to be breaking right faster that the national trends. According to recent polls, N.C. Republicans perform better on the generic ballot than their own party in the national polls. Fewer North Carolinians (26%) also believe the country is on the "right track" than many national opinion polls. President Biden's low popularity is even lower in North Carolina than nationally.

    Just one of North Carolina's congressional races was considered competitive going into campaign season. District 13, south of the capital city of Raleigh, has Republican newcomer Bo Hines facing Democrat state Sen. Wiley Nickel. Nickel does not live in the district, and Hines moved to the district following his endorsement from Donald Trump. In District 1, Republican Sandy Smith faces another Democrat state senator, Don Davis. The district was previously held by longtime Congressman G.K. Butterfield, who repeatedly won his seat, often by more than 70%. the race is labeled "lean Democrat," meaning it is competitive but favors the Democrat. If Republican turnout is heavy, this advantage may disappear.

    All seats in the N.C. General Assembly are also on the ballot this year, with Republicans expected to hold onto House and Senate majorities, but working to regain supermajorities. Republicans need 72 seats in the House and 30 in the Senate to secure a supermajority. That means the GOP needs a net pickup of three seats in the House and two seats in the Senate.

    A supermajority is important because it means lawmakers could pass legislation and ostensibly override the veto stamp of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Lawmakers and Cooper have been at a stalemate over a variety of issues since 2019 due to the governor's veto.

    "The context for this year's election is similar to that of 2010, when Democrats lost over 1,000 legislative seats across the nation," said David McLennan, a political science professor at Meredith College in Raleigh. "The president is unpopular, and a large percentage of people see the country moving in the wrong direction."

    For more information find your sample ballot here.
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