RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As Election Day draws near, the State Board of Elections wants you to know 10 things to expect after you cast your ballot and the polls close.
The BOE said it wants to ensure that routine and required election procedures are "not misconstrued or misrepresented."
"Elections are the product of extensive planning and preparation, with thousands of bipartisan election workers, hundreds of partisan observers, and the bipartisan county boards of elections watching every step," the BOE wrote.
With that said, here are the 10 things to be aware of both on and in the days following the midterm election:
1. Minor disruptions arise during every election, such as power outages, tabulator or printer jams, or long lines at some voting places. These are not indications of malicious activity, and processes are in place to respond to each scenario. For example, if a ballot tabulator malfunctions, trained officials can be brought in to repair it, or the machine can be replaced by a certified and tested backup. Counties have backup plans in the event of a power failure.
2. It is not unusual for the State Board to extend polling hours beyond 7:30 p.m. if a disruption at a polling place causes an interruption in voting. The Board will issue a public notice if it meets on Election Day to consider polling hours extensions. The public will be able to listen to the meeting remotely. The State Board may extend voting hours at sites where voting is interrupted for at least 15 minutes, but the Board may extend voting only as long as the disruption and only for the affected sites. All votes cast after 7:30 p.m. will be provisional votes, per state law.
3. Unofficial election results will be reported as they become available on the State Board's Election Results Dashboard. Once polls close at 7:30 p.m., the dashboard is updated regularly throughout election night as county boards of elections report results to the state. Results from each voting site must be physically delivered to the office of the county board of elections under strict chain-of-custody procedures. Those results must then be verified and loaded onto the statewide reporting system.
4. Election night results are always unofficial. In the days after the election, bipartisan election officials in all 100 counties will ensure every eligible ballot is counted. They will audit and ultimately certify the results. Called the "canvass" process, this occurs after every election. For local contests, the county boards will certify the results on Nov. 18. For all other contests, the State Board will certify the final results on Nov. 29.
5. The State Board anticipates that the unofficial results reported by the end of election night will include about 99% of all ballots cast in North Carolina. The State Board will stop adding ballots to the totals on election night only after there are no additional ballots to count.
6. Ballots that will be counted and reported by the end of election night include:
- All votes cast by voters during the One-Stop early voting period, excluding provisional ballots, which must be researched post-election to determine voter eligibility.
- All by-mail absentee votes received by the county boards of elections by 5 p.m. Nov. 7.
- All Election Day votes, excluding provisional ballots, which must be researched.
7. Ballots that will not be counted and added to unofficial results on election night include:
- Properly signed and witnessed absentee ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and arrive in the mail by 5 p.m. Nov. 14.
- Overseas and military absentee ballots that arrive by mail to the county board of elections by 5 p.m. Nov. 17.
- All provisional ballots, which must be researched after the election to determine voter eligibility.
County boards of elections will add any eligible ballots from these categories to the results during the post-election canvass period.
8. The general timeline for results reporting is as follows, but various factors can affect the timing:
- 7:30 p.m.: Polls close.
- 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m.: Counties report results of one-stop early voting and absentee by-mail ballots received by 5 p.m. Nov. 7.
- 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.: Precinct officials hand-deliver Election Day results to county boards of elections offices.
- 8:30 p.m.-midnight: Election Day precinct results are reported; reporting continues until all Election Day unofficial results are posted.
9. Elections officials do not "call" elections. Election officials never "call" or project a race for any candidate. Projections are made by media and/or candidates using unofficial results, typically based on the vote difference and the number of votes yet to be counted in a contest. In some cases, the trailing candidate will concede the contest if they realize they could not make up the vote differential with the ballots still uncounted. Election officials will go through the same post-election processes no matter how close the contest, even when a candidate concedes.
10. Stay tuned to the State Board for additional information about the election. The State Board will issue tips for Election Day voters and information about post-election processes, including audits and recounts. To ensure voters can be well-informed, the agency also plans online and in-person media availabilities on Nov. 7, and on the morning of Election Day.
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