North Carolina voters decide on legislature's direction

Published 11-06-2018

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina voters were deciding Tuesday whether Gov. Roy Cooper and his Democratic colleagues will gain influence in the current Republican-dominated legislature for the next two years, and if GOP policy proposals should be etched in the state constitution.

All 170 General Assembly seats were up for election, and Democrats needed to win four additional House seats or six more Senate seats to end the Republicans' veto-proof control. The supermajorities have allowed Republicans to pass legislation at will since 2013, in particular those eroding the governor's powers since Cooper was narrowly elected in 2016.

Voters also are choosing seats for the U.S. House, county offices and for state courts, including one on the state Supreme Court.

Early Election Day turnout was described as heavy in and around Greensboro and Raleigh, with some long lines at precincts.

This was on top of the nearly 2 million people who already cast ballots statewide before Tuesday during the early in-person voting period - a huge increase compared to the 1.1 million that voted early during the last midterms in 2014.

Wake and Forsyth counties attributed humid conditions as to why some ballots Tuesday couldn't be fed through voting tabulators in some precincts. Those ballots were being stored in "emergency bins," to be tabulated right after the polls closed, officials said.

The state board agreed late Tuesday to extend the closing time for a Columbus County precinct for nearly two hours because precinct workers didn't have one of three ballot styles when they opened Tuesday morning. Between 10 and 20 people may have been affected by the delay, a state board official said.

The board also delayed the closing by 20 minutes of a Gaston County precinct where a fire evacuation occurred.

Cooper, Democratic candidates and allied groups have raised enormous sums of campaign money to end the GOP's supermajorities and to defeat all six constitutional referendums. They would need 16 more House seats and 11 more Senate seats overall to retake majorities for the first time since 2010. Senate candidate fundraising was a bright spot for Republicans.

While considered a swing state in presidential elections - Donald Trump won the state in 2016 - North Carolina state pol

The state board agreed late Tuesday to extend the closing time for a Columbus County precinct for nearly two hours because precinct workers didn't have one of three ballot styles when they opened Tuesday morning. Between 10 and 20 people may have been affected by the delay, a state board official said.

The board also delayed the closing by 20 minutes of a Gaston County precinct where a fire evacuation occurred.

Cooper, Democratic candidates and allied groups have raised enormous sums of campaign money to end the GOP's supermajorities and to defeat all six constitutional referendums. They would need 16 more House seats and 11 more Senate seats overall to retake majorities for the first time since 2010. Senate candidate fundraising was a bright spot for Republicans.

While considered a swing state in presidential elections - Donald Trump won the state in 2016 - North Carolina state politics have been dominated by the GOP for much of the decade, thanks in part to favorable district lines Republicans drew.

A pair of constitutional amendments on ballots would swing authority over filling judicial vacancies and the elections board from the governor and toward the legislature. A third would mandate photo identification to vote in person. Republicans have been unsuccessful twice since 2011 in voter ID laws they passed - one was vetoed and the other struck down by federal judges.

Community college student Paul Seaton, 37, of Raleigh, said he voted Tuesday against most of the amendments, including the voter ID mandate. Seaton blamed Republicans for trying to make voting more restrictive - one of the reasons why he voted for Democrats on Tuesday.

"That shouldn't even be on the ballot," Seaton said. "Where's the stuff on the ballot for making it easier to vote?"

Josh Bracy, a North Caroli

Cooper, Democratic candidates and allied groups have raised enormous sums of campaign money to end the GOP's supermajorities and to defeat all six constitutional referendums. They would need 16 more House seats and 11 more Senate seats overall to retake majorities for the first time since 2010. Senate candidate fundraising was a bright spot for Republicans.

While considered a swing state in presidential elections - Donald Trump won the state in 2016 - North Carolina state politics have been dominated by the GOP for much of the decade, thanks in part to favorable district lines Republicans drew.

A pair of constitutional amendments on ballots would swing authority over filling judicial vacancies and the elections board from the governor and toward the legislature. A third would mandate photo identification to vote in person. Republicans have been unsuccessful twice since 2011 in voter ID laws they passed - one was vetoed and the other struck down by federal judges.

Community college student Paul Seaton, 37, of Raleigh, said he voted Tuesday against most of the amendments, including the voter ID mandate. Seaton blamed Republicans for trying to make voting more restrictive - one of the reasons why he voted for Democrats on Tuesday.

"That shouldn't even be on the ballot," Seaton said. "Where's the stuff on the ballot for making it easier to vote?"

Josh Bracy, a North Carolina State University student, said Tuesday he supported all six amendments, saying "they felt like good changes."

But Bracy, a 21-year-old unaffiliated voter who said he usually leans Republican, chose Democratic legislative candidates because he believes GOP lawmakers haven't devoted enough funding to education.

Republicans hold 10 of the delegation's 13 congressional seats, but Democrats were running tight races in three seats. Trump campaigned twice in North Carolina since August for Republican Mark Harris in the 9th and GOP Rep. Ted Budd in the 13th. Rep. George Holding in the 2nd District also was being threatened by a Democratic challenger.

On the Supreme Court, Democrat Anita Earls was seeking to unseat Associate Justice Barbara Jackson, a Republican. An Earls victory would give Democrats five of the seven seats on the court.

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Associated Press writer Emery P. Dalesio contributed to this report.

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For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

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