Keith Ivey / Flickr/Creative Commons

North Carolina voters are choosing their candidates for a competitive U.S. Senate seat, the state Supreme Court and dozens of other state and federal offices.  Local election workers planned to open more than 2,700 precinct locations today.

Eight Republicans are seeking their party's nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. She has her own primary against two lesser-known opponents.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Robin Hudson has two challengers for her seat. The top two vote-getters advance to the November election. 

Theresa Thompson / Creative Commons/Flickr

Early voting begins today for the May primary election.

Today is the first day North Carolinians can cast their votes in this year's primary election. 289 sites across the state will be open for residents to come to the polls. That's 77 more locations than in 2010.

NC General Assembly

Changes detailed in the state's new voting law now allow bigger donations for candidates. 

Political office seekers were able to start padding their campaign war chests once the calendar changed to 2014.  Candidates for any office can now accept up to $5,000 from a single contributor.  Before the new year, the contribution limit for most donors was $4,000.  Judicial candidates could only accept $1,000 per supporter. 

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

A federal judge has ruled that challenges to the North Carolina law that requires voters to show identification at polling stations will not be heard until after the mid-term elections of 2014.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake said in a a hearing Thursday that the law was too complex to be thoroughly reviewed prior to the November elections. Peake scheduled a trial for July 2015.

Attorneys on both sides of four lawsuits challenging voting rules signed into law by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory this year are scheduled to meet in U.S. District Court on Thursday morning to argue over an opening date for the trial.

The two sides disagree on whether a trial should be heard before the 2014 mid-term elections. The plaintiffs, which include the North Carolina NAACP and the League of Women Voters, are asking the court to schedule for trial in August 2014. The attorneys representing the state are asking for a begin date no earlier than January 2015.

Photo: Rev. William Barber of the N.C. NAACP called for pickets outside Rose and Maxwell stores, which are owned by the family of state Budget Director Art Pope.
Jorge Valencia

The Rev. William Barber, who led weekly protests this year against laws passed by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature, gathered with a few of his supporters Monday outside the state budget office to criticize a man they say supports policies that hurt poor people.

Fayetteville, NC
City of Fayetteville

Municipal elections take place Tuesday across the state. Just a fraction of registered voters are expected to help decide mayoral races, city council candidacies and one significant school bond measure.

The education referendum is on the ballot in Johnston County. There voters will decide whether or not to allocate $64 million for a school construction bond. Johnston is the second fastest-growing district in the state and leaders say money is needed to provide for the additional student population. There is no organized opposition to the measure.

  Congress failed to pass a spending bill to avert a government shutdown last night.

Republican lawmakers refused to consider legislation to fund the government unless Democrats were willing to concede on implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The impasse means furloughs for many federal workers while the Affordable Care Act enrollment continues as planned.

The Watauga County Board of Elections has restored several polling sites in Boone. That comes a day after the State Director of Elections indicated she would not approve a plan to combine the three sites into one location. 

Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

As the legislative wheels turn, the Voter Identification Verification Act was introduced, debated, and passed at light speed. It was late July - the last week of the General Assembly’s session - when Republican leaders introduced the sweeping voting changes.

Montravius King
Dave DeWitt

Richard Gilbert, who goes by Pete, is the chair of the Republican Party in Pasquotank County. Over the years, he’s ambled into the County Elections Board meetings in that coastal county and challenged the legitimacy of dozens of voters, many of them students from Elizabeth City State University.

His argument is almost always the same: that the college students who live in dorms there aren’t permanent residents.

So it wasn’t a surprise when he challenged the candidacy of Montravias King, a senior at the historically black university, who had filed to run for city council.

Local County Board of Elections meetings are usually quiet, lightly attended affairs. But in Watauga and Pasquotank Counties, recent meetings have been acrimonious and highly partisan.

Last month, the Watauga County Board of Elections moved a polling site off of the Appalachian State University campus. Across the state, the Pasquotank County Board of Elections denied a college student a chance to run for local office. Both decisions were decried by Democrats as efforts to suppress the votes of young people. Since this spring, all local Boards of Elections are Republican-majority.

Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University

On the same day Governor Pat McCrory signed sweeping election changes into law, the Watauga County Board of Elections made several decisions that raised the ire of democrats in western North Carolina.

The three-member Board, with a 2-to-1 Republican majority, voted to close the early voting site on the Appalachian State campus. The Board also consolidated the three voting sites in Boone into one polling place. That means more than 9,000 voters will vote at one site. The next most populous polling place in the county has fewer than 5,000 voters.

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper
N.C. Democratic Party

North Carolina's Attorney General, Roy Cooper, is taking a very public stance to urge Governor Pat McCrory to veto a recently passed elections law bill.

Among other things, the bill would shorten early voting by one week and require residents to show approved photo identification at the polls.

Cooper's campaign has sent out a mass email to ask people to sign an online petition requesting the governor veto House Bill 589. He says if passed, the legislation would cause expensive litigation and potential confusion.

Dave DeWitt

The House today is expected to take up a bill that makes major changes to how North Carolina will conduct elections. The Voter Verification Information Act includes shorter early voting periods and the elimination of same-day voter registration.

Other changes include no longer pre-registering young voters and increasing the maximum campaign donation per election. That’s in addition to the original purpose of the bill, to create a voter ID requirement.

North Carolina's Congressional District 12 in 1992.

In 2010, when Republicans won control of the state House and Senate, they radically redrew voting districts in favor of their own party.  In previous elections, Democrats have done the same.  Now, there's a bipartisan effort in the state House of Representatives to reform the redistricting process.

A steady stream of voters are making their way to the polls this election day across North Carolina.   Elections officials predict as many as two million people will vote today.

Leoneda Inge:  More than two-point-five million people voted early in North Carolina. But not Latarcha Lee of Durham.

Latarcha Lee:  It’s just kind of special like, wait til the last minute, you know.

Leah Tedrick-Moutz isn’t that much of a traditionalist.

The History of Voting

Oct 25, 2012

At the start of our nation, a very small margin of people was allowed the right to vote. Due to decades of struggle, that right is much more widespread today, however, some experts say it’s becoming harder to fulfill.

State lawmakers failed to include matching money in the budget they passed yesterday for federal funds to help administer the 2012 elections. The state must provide 660 thousand dollars in order to receive four million dollars in matching funds. It's authorized by the Help America Vote act, passed by Congress in 2002. Lawmakers included money in previous House and Senate budget versions, but not the consensus budget. Brent Laurenz heads the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, a non-profit, non-partisan organization in Raleigh.

Lawmakers have passed a bill that would require voters to show photo identification at the polls.

State senators passed the bill as expected last night, but not before more than an hour of spirited debate. Republican Buck Newton told lawmakers requiring voters to bring ID with them to the polls will help combat instances of fraud.

A bill in the legislature that would require North Carolinians to show a photo ID at the polls has become a flashpoint of controversy among lawmakers. The measure’s Republican sponsors say the bill aims to fight voter fraud and ensure that every vote is counted. But Democrats believe the proposal is a regressive measure aimed at keeping many of their supporters away from the polls.