NC ready to roll out one-stop early voting, anticipating a higher-turnout midterm election

Joel Brown Image
Tuesday, October 18, 2022
NC rolling out one-stop early voting as high midterm turnout expected
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For the 2022 midterm election, North Carolina will boast more than 350 one-stop voting sites.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- On the floor of one of Wake County's newest one-stop early voting sites, there was a buzz in the air. Elections workers were stocking ballots and preparing to train volunteers. By 8 a.m. Thursday morning, it will be time to vote early.

"It's the most popular form of voting statewide," said Wake County Deputy Director of Elections Olivia McCall. "And I think the reason it is popular is because it gives you flexibility."

For the 2022 midterm election, North Carolina will boast more than 350 one-stop voting sites. 15 sites will be in Wake County -- open 17 straight days, including weekends, from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5.


One-stop early voting has moved from the fringe to the mainstream. It's now how most North Carolinians vote. In all, 56% of North Carolina voters cast ballots early in 2012, rising to 62% in 2016. And by 2020, it was up to 65%. Those were all presidential election years, not midterms. But with hot-button issues such as abortion and inflation on voters' minds, election officials are expecting a larger-than-normal midterm turnout.

"The most we've ever had for a midterm election has been right at 60%," said Wake Elections Board Director Gary Sims. "Just based on the interest we're seeing (this year), I would definitely say a minimum of 65%."


Karen Brinson Bell is the state elections director. The state board oversees all 100 county boards of elections. It's a nonpartisan job that in many states was caught in a swarm of 2020 election conspiracy theories filled with debunked claims about vote dumps and stolen races. Bell invited ABC 11 inside the room where the state fidelity tests county vote machines. She wants to reassure voters that ballots are safe.

"The (conspiracy-filled controversies) gave us an opportunity to educate the voters," Brinson Bell said. "Before every single election, we do what we call logic and accuracy testing. We test every machine, every ballot style, everything that's going to be deployed."

The safety of poll workers is a big focus too -- reassuring local election staffers who may have watched the unfounded claims of the Trump campaign in 2020 about massive fraud in the vote count that triggered threats to an election worker in Georgia.

Back at Southeast Raleigh YMCA, the Wake election chief signaled there would be no tolerance for harassment at the polls.

"We aren't gonna put up with it," Sims said. "People are just going to be able to vote. Everybody's gonna get to vote their one ballot for this election and people should not be harassed."

Early voting begins Thursday morning and runs through Nov. 5. If you missed last week's voter registration deadline, you can register and cast your ballot at the same time at one of the early voting sites. But importantly, while there are lots of one-stop sites statewide, you have to vote within the county where you're registered.