It's the day we've been building toward for almost two years.
Election day has arrived, and the stakes in North Carolina are high and the polling shows races that are remarkably tight. The state has transformed into the chief 'battleground' state in both the presidential and U.S. Senate elections. On top of that, North Carolina's gubernatorial race is one of the most high-profile in the country thanks to the state's controversial House Bill Two. Voters will also decide their House of Representatives members, seats in the state general assembly, a spot on the bench in North Carolina's Supreme Court, and county commissioner positions. In Asheville, voters will give a thumbs up or down to three bonds totaling $74-million that would fund transportation, parks, and affordable housing upgrades. Polls are open today from 6:30 to 7:30. Anyone still in line to vote at 7:30 will be allowed to do so.
Almost 43-percent of registered voters in North Carolina already cast their ballot during early voting that concluded Saturday. That number is even higher in western North Carolina. The early voting turnout rate in Buncombe (51%), Henderson (45.6%), Haywood (43.9%), and Jackson (43.8%) Counties all outpaced the state turnout. Buncombe County's higher early voter turnout is thanks to Democrats, whose 56.7% early turnout topped the rates of Republicans (50.4%), Libertarians (30.7%) and unaffiliated (45.6%) voters. The party's Senate nominee Deborah Ross finds that encouraging. As she stopped at an Asheville Democratic office on the final day of the campaign, Ross said it "makes me feel like we put some in the bank. But I don’t want just Democrats to vote for me.”
Ross and her Republican opponent, incumbent Richard Burr, are in a statistical dead heat heading into Election Day. The New York Times/Siena University UPSHOT poll shows Burr leading 46 to 45 percent, with a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. The same poll also has Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tied at 44%. Democrat Roy Cooper leads Republican incumbent Pat McCrory 47 to 46 percent in the governor's race.
Live blogging from NPR starts at 5 this evening. Live coverage of results starts at 7 and will go through the night all the way to Morning Edition Wednesday at 5 a.m.