Vote 2020: Millions of North Carolina ballots already counted, but data won't upload until Tuesday

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Mark your calendars for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday because you won't know anything before then.

You will, however, probably know a lot more at that time than in elections past with four million votes--and counting--already run through the tabulators. After early voting ends on Saturday, absentee ballots arriving before Monday at 5 p.m. will also be part of the preliminary Election Night results.

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Democrats votes are likely to be counted later, because they outnumbered republicans in mail-in voting



It's not until Tuesday afternoon, however, that county boards of elections start to print the receipts of each tabulator and begin to upload results into their central servers.

"The tabulation software that's associated with the voting equipment is completely disconnected from the internet," Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections, told ABC11. "It's not allowed by law."

The data from the tabulators are transferred to the server via USB drive, though Bell adds even those USB drives are brand new and specially ordered.

"They aren't the ones you buy in bulk from the dollar store," Bell said. "It is a well-coordinated effort."

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Once the data is uploaded, the county servers will connect securely with something called "SEMS", the State Election Management System, which officials say is monitored by some 100 people on Election Day.

"I think about a shuttle launch at NASA headquarters and you've got your mics on and computer stations," Bell said.

The State Board of Elections anticipates that the results reported by the end of election night will include 97 percent or more of all ballots cast. The remaining ballots that arrive after election day will be counted and added to the totals during the post-election canvass period.

As for cyber security, the NCSBE partners with the North Carolina National Guard's Cyber Unit and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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