The crucial swing state of North Carolina saw historic turnout on day one of early in-person voting Thursday, according to reports.
Over 333,000 residents of the highly-contested southern state made it to the polls on the first day they were able, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports. This surpassed the previous record for one-day early voting turnout of 304,000 voters set in 2016, the Citizen-Times says.
That number combined with the more than 550,000 absentee ballots already cast means that 12% of registered voters in the state have already voted with more than two weeks left until election day, the Citizen-Times reports. Online and by-mail registration ended on October 9th in North Carolina, but voters can still register in-person through October 31st, which is the last day of early voting.
More than 362,000 in-person early votes had been cast as of Friday morning, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections. When added to absentee totals at this time, the number of total votes counted is already approaching one million. In 2016, the state saw more than 4.6 million ballots cast.
Long lines are seen outside of polling places as early voting kicks off in North Carolina.
— ABC News (@ABC) October 15, 2020
President Donald Trump won that contest, defeating Hillary Clinton by 3.8% to secure North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes. The state still tends to lean Republican but has become more purple in recent elections, with Barack Obama defeating John McCain there in 2008 by less than 15,000 votes before 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney won the state back by a margin of 2%. (RELATED: Absentee Ballots Must Have Witness Signatures In North Carolina, Ballots Can Be Counted After Election Day, Judge Rules)
Joe Biden currently has a 66% chance of winning the state, according to election forecaster FiveThirtyEight. The Democratic nominee holds a 2.7% polling lead, per the RealClearPolitics polling average. Both campaigns have invested heavily in North Carolina, with FiveThirtyEight estimating a 5.4% chance the state could be the “tipping-point” that decides the electoral college, which is the 5th highest probability behind Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and Michigan.
The state is also the site of a key senate race pitting incumbent Republican Thom Tillis against Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham. Cunningham still holds a slight lead in polls despite facing criticism in recent weeks over an extramarital sexting scandal. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper is also running for re-election against Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest.