Polls open at 6:30 Tuesday morning for the runoff election in Western North Carolina's 11th Congressional district. Maggie Valley businesswoman Lynda Bennett faces Henderson County real estate investor Madison Cawthorn for the GOP nomination for the seat previously held by President Donald Trump's chief of staff Mark Meadows. Polls close at 7:30 Tuesday evening.
Only Republican voters, and unaffiliated voters who voted in the GOP primary this past March 3rd, are eligible to vote. Bennett or Cawthorn finished first and second respectively in the March 3rd primary. But neither reached the 30% of the vote needed to avoid Tuesday's runoff, which was delayed from May 12th due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The winner faces Democrat Moe Davis in the fall. Davis received nearly 50% of the vote in the Democratic primary in March.
The district lines for the 11th are different for 2020 after a court ruled them redrawn due to 'extreme partisan' gerrymandering by state Republicans. All of the westernmost counties of North Carolina are in the 11th for 2020. Meadows announced in December he would not seek a 5th term in office amid speculation he would take a position in the Trump administration. He did so in March, resigning the seat. It's likely a special election to fill out the remainder of his term (using the existing district lines which split the city of Asheville into the 10th & 11th districts) will be held on the same day as the general election November 3rd.
Social distancing will be enforced at polling places Tuesday. The North Carolina State Board of Elections outlined the following precautions it will take for the runoff -
• Masks available for all poll workers and voters who do not bring their own.
• Single-use pens for voters to mark their ballots.
• Single-use cotton swabs for voters using touchscreen voting machines.
• Enforced social distancing for all poll workers and voters, including markings or barriers to prevent voters in line from standing too close together.
• Hand sanitizer for voters and poll workers.
• Face shields and gloves for poll workers.
• Protective barriers between poll workers and voters at check-in tables.
• Special sanitation kits at each precinct to ensure poll worker protection and clean tables, voting booths and voting machines throughout the voting process.
• Thorough cleaning of voting sites before and after the election.