Blue counties account for more than half of outstanding mail-in ballots in NC

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Nearly 60 percent of the roughly 116,200 outstanding mail-in ballots in North Carolina are tied to voters in the 25 counties where Joe Biden unofficially leads the presidential race, a CBS17.com data analysis found.

CBS17.com on Thursday examined recently released rounded counts from the state Board of Elections of the mail-in ballots that have not yet been received and compared them to the preliminary voting results in an attempt to gauge what effect they could have on the final results of several races if they were cast, postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by the Nov. 12 deadline.

That’s in addition to the nearly 41,000 provisional ballots cast Tuesday that elections board officials said Thurdsay still must be researched to confirm the eligibility of those voters.

“If you put these together, could it make a difference in the presidential race? Yes, it could,” Western Carolina political science professor Chris Cooper said. “It is unlikely to, but it is absolutely possible and it also could make a difference in other races a little bit lower down the ballot.”

Among the races that media outlets determined were too close to call on Election Night include the presidential race between Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, the U.S. Senate contest between GOP incumbent Thom Tillis and Democrat Cal Cunningham and the race for state attorney general between Democratic incumbent Josh Stein and Republican Jim O’Neill.

“Biden and a lot of Democrats who lost statewide would need to sweep those numbers,” Duke professor Mac McCorkle said. “And it’s a little hard to see, but it’s still an open question.”

In the highest-profile race, Trump leads Biden by 76,701 votes, according to unofficial results posted to the Board of Elections’ website. 

Biden held the lead in 25 of the state’s 100 counties, and 57 percent of the roughly 116,200 outstanding ballots — approximately 65,900 of them — are tied to voters in those counties.

Those counties also make up the nine most populous counties in the state — Wake, Mecklenburg, Guilford, Forsyth, Cumberland, Durham, Buncombe, Union and New Hanover counties.

Seven counties account for more than 52,000 of those outstanding ballots — a list that includes Wake, Durham and Cumberland counties — and Biden has at least 50 percent of the unofficial vote counts in each of them.

In mail-in voting results tabulated so far, Biden received more than two votes for every one for Trump. Other Democratic candidates also outgained Republicans by a similar ratio in mail-in voting.

“We tend to see it coming from Democrats in 2020, from Democratic counties and, of course, just given the volume, from the largest counties in our state,” Cooper said.

The voting breakdown in the senate race follows a similar pattern, with Tillis holding leads in the same counties that Trump does and adding one more — Pasquotank County, where Biden leads the presidential race.

Stein leads in 27 counties — the same ones led by Biden plus Scotland and Martin counties. Overall, Stein leads by just 10,769 votes — or, 0.2 percent, making a recount a possibility.

The largest share of those outstanding ballots belongs to unaffiliated voters, who account for 39 percent to 37 percent for Democrats and 23 percent for Republicans, according to the elections board.

The board also says 20 percent of those ballots are tied to Black voters — which is proportional to that group’s representation of the state’s 7.3 million registered voters. White voters, who make up 64 percent of the voter rolls, account for 56 percent of the outstanding ballots.

Hispanic and Latinx voters make up 4 percent of the outstanding ballots.

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