Table of Contents
The general election is Nov. 3, and early voting starts on Oct. 15. That may seem like a while from now, but Election Day is only 48 days away.
We want you to be ready to cast your ballot with all the confidence in the world, so we’re breaking down all the 2020 election must-knows for you. In North Carolina, you’ll be voting for a Senate representative, Congressional House representatives, state positions (including Governor and Lieutenant Governor), local positions (including City Council) and of course, the President of the United States. There are no ballot measures this year — AKA state amendments.
In this guide, you’ll find registration + polling information, maps of local voting districts, a breakdown of candidate priorities, a timeline of important dates, and an election dictionary of terms you should know.
Basically, if you have a question about the upcoming election, this is your resource. So go ahead and bookmark it, and as always, reach out to us if you have any questions we didn’t answer.
Head to the polls
Not sure if you’re registered to vote? Check here.
Need to register? Learn how to do that here. Note: You have until Oct. 9 to register.
Need an absentee ballot? Read all about how to get one here.
Waiting until election day? Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. If you’re in line by 7:30 p.m., you will be able to vote. Note: Early voting polling places may be different from voting day polling places. Find your polling place here.
Looking for COVID-19 safety information? Find coronavirus updates from the North Carolina State Board of Elections here.
Candidates by district
Raise your hand if you’re a visual learner. 🙋♀️ To determine your districts, check out the maps + resources below, then use your districts to identify your candidates.
You can also identify your voting districts by checking your voter registration status or sample ballot. Find information on how congressional and state legislative district boundaries are established here.
North Carolina US Congressional districts
North Carolina House districts
North Carolina Senate districts
Buncombe County Commissioner districts
Meet the candidates
Since you probably already know about the presidential candidates, we’re focusing on what you need to know on a local level. Keep reading for a rundown of North Carolina’s US Congressional candidates, Gubernatorial candidates, State Senate candidates, and candidates running for other local + state seats. To identify candidate priorities, we relied on verified candidate questionnaires submitted to the nonpartisan site Ballotpedia + issues listed directly on candidate websites.
Shannon Bray | Priorities: Personal privacy and data protection; benefits for veterans + equity under the law + more.
Cal Cunningham | Priorities: Lower-cost, accessible healthcare; equitable economy + living wage; investing in rural broadband; raising teacher pay; spreading solar energy; protecting Roe v. Wade; common-sense gun reform; expanding voting rights + more
Kevin E. Hayes | Priorities: Pro-life, protecting the Second Amendment, and promoting state control over education.
Thom Thillis (incumbent) | Priorities: Helped pass the Farm Bill; increase broadband access for rural communities; expand + maintain export markets for agricultural products; “right-sizing” solar tariffs; help with national park maintenance; secure borders and use merit-based immigration system; roll back wasteful Obama-era regulations; combat the opioid crisis
US House of Representatives District 11
Madison Cawthorn | Priorities: Lowering taxes; fund infrastructure improvements; opposing nuclearization of Iran; standing ground against Democrats; defending the southern border of the US
Tracey DeBruhl | Priorities: Address police corruption; address homelessness; enact more safety measures in school; legalize marijuana
Moe Davis | Priorities: Single-payer plan for healthcare; investing in education; elimination of student debt; supporting alternative energy and combating climate change; immigration reform; legalizing marijuana; campaign finance reform + more
Tamara Zwinak | | Priorities: Sustainability; living wage; pro-choice; pro-Israel; feminist
Roy Cooper (incumbent) | Priorities while in office: Job growth; equal rights for LGBTQ citizens; preventing workplace discrimination; clean energy; combating the opioid crisis; banning conversion therpay + more
Steven J. DiFiore | Priorities: Education and healthcare reform (with a focus on mental health), reforming the NC Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), and housing and zoning issues.
Dan Forest | Priorities: Allow school choice; preserve free speech rights on college campuses; connect classrooms with high-speed internet; Currently NC’s Lieutenant Governor.
Al Pisano | Priorities: National sovereignty and individual property rights, Second Amendment rights, and religious freedom.
NC Lieutenant Governor
Yvonne Lewis Holley | Priorities: The Affordable Living Initiative (ALI): affordable and attainable housing + healthcare; economic and workforce development; access to affordable, healthy food; increasing teacher pay; improving transportation infrastructure + more. Current NC House of Representatives member.
Mark Robinson | Priorities: Support the Second Amendment; oppose abortion; stop illegal immigration; support veterans; cut taxes and regulations to support business owners
NC Attorney General
Jim O’Neill | Priorities: Clearing backlogged and untested rape kits; defending capital murder case convictions; combating the heroin and opioid crisis.
Josh Stein (incumbent) | Priorities: Healthcare, the environment, education, juvenile justice reform + protecting NC families.
Anthony Street | Priorities: Increase agricultural production; promote education + conservation
Beth A. Wood (incumbent) | Priorities: Cutting waste in government spending; following up on audits; maintaining objectivity and independence in the role; presenting audit reports for legislative actions
NC Commissioner of Agriculture
Steve Troxler (incumbent) | Priorities: Developing new markets for NC farm products; preserving working farms; protecting the state’s food supply; funding agricultural developmental projects and farmland protection plans; registering more farmers to process + sell their own meat + more. He has been the Commissioner of Agriculture since 2005.
Jenna Wadsworth | Priorities: Farmland preservation; building resiliency into farm plans to address climate change; promoting hemp and cannabis legalization; increasing opportunities for farmers + rural communities; food science research; rural broadband access + more
NC Commissioner of Insurance
Mike Causey (incumbent) | Priorities: Increase competition in NC’s insurance industry to provide lower rates and improve efficiency and access.
Wayne Goodwin | Priorities: Fair, nondiscriminatory housing and auto rates, improving access to affordable coverage, enhanced consumer protections, and fighting against insurance fraud.
NC Commissioner of Labor
Josh Dobson | Priorities: no information available
Jessica Holmes | Priorities: Ensure safe and healthy workplaces, expand workers’ rights, and increase the minimum wage.
NC Secretary of State
Elaine Marshall (incumbent) | Priorities: Protection of copyrights, deterring counterfeit goods, reducing the cost of doing business for companies and individuals, and improving information technology.
E.C. Sykes | Priorities: Cutting waste, limiting the size of government, increased transparency and efficiency, and improving NC’s business environment.
NC Superintendent of Public Instruction
Jen Mangrum | Priorities: Increase per-pupil expenditure to national average; secure living wage for school personnel; expand access to digital resources; expand access to early childhood education; reduce class size; provide a health + safe school environment; increase trainings in trauma-informed care; increase teacher pay + more
Catherine Truitt | Priorities: Bring highly qualified teachers into schools; give students skills to be competitive in the job market; improve literacy; expand collaboration between schools and colleges, community colleges, businesses, hospitals + others; address need for equitable funding in public schools
Dale Folwell (incumbent) | Priorities: Maintaining NC’s high credit rating; proposing reforms supporting transparency in healthcare costs; increasing transparency and effectiveness at the State Department of Treasurer; reaching conservative and common sense solutions + more. He was first elected to the position in 2017.
Ronnie Chatterji | Priorities: Responsible investment in companies that sustain NC’s growth; support environmental protection and equity; create a healthcare system that is a model for the nation; expand access to financial services. He is a professor of business + public policy at Duke University and served as a senior economist in the Obama administration’s White House Council of Economic Advisers.
NC Supreme Court Chief Justice – Seat 1
Cheri Beasley (incumbent) | Priorities: Use technology to modernize the court system, increase access to recovery courts, build school and justice relationships, and hold faith and justice roundtable meetings.
Paul Newby | Priorities: No information available.
NC Supreme Court Associate Justice — Seat 2
Phil Berger Jr. | Priorities: No information available.
Lucy N. Inman | Priorities: No information available.
NC Supreme Court Associate Justice — Seat 4
Tamara Barringer | Priorities: Constitutional interpretation of the laws and protection of job opportunities in NC.
Mark Davis (incumbent) | Priorities: No information available.
NC Appeals Court Judge — Seat 4
Tricia Shields | Priorities: Independence of NC’s judiciary, diversity, and inclusion.
April C. Wood | Priorities: Uphold the Constitution, interpret and apply the law as written, and equality.
NC Appeals Court Judge — Seat 5
Lora Christine Cubbage | Priorities: No information available.
Fred Gore | Priorities: No information available.
NC Appeals Court Judge — Seat 6
Chris Dillon | Priorities: No information available.
Gray Styers | Priorities: Impartiality of the justice system, economic opportunities, and equitable protection of rights.
NC Appeals Court Judge — Seat 7
Jeff Carpenter | Priorities: Following the Constitution as written, preserving the separation of powers between the three branches of government, and that the law should be applied fairly and equally to everyone.
Reuben F. Young | Priorities: Fairness, independence, and impartiality.
NC Appeals Court Judge — Seat 13
Chris Brook (incumbent) | Priorities: Treat everyone fairly and with respect, regardless of their race, gender, and socio-economic status.
Jefferson G. Griffin | Priorities: Committed to the rule of law, impartiality in NC courts, and improvement of access to justice.
NC State Senate District 48
Chuck Edwards (incumbent) | Priorities: Increase jobs and build a strong economy; support parents’ right to choose a child’s school; improve productivity and create accountability with how taxpayer dollars are spent; support Second Amendment rights
Brian Caskey | Priorities: Fix gerrymandering; expand Medicaid; invest in public education; fund pre-K services; prioritize environmental protection; end rural poverty + food insecurity, reinstated the Earned Income Tax Credit
NC State Senate District 49
Bob Penland | Priorities: Continuing NC’s fiscal policies; preserving a conservative and traditional values agenda in Raleigh; protecting the Second Amendment; supporting pro-life legislation; ensuring taxes only support legitimate and necessary functions of government + more
Julie Mayfield | Priorities: Create an NC-specific Green New Deal; invest in better transportation + infrastructure; restore protections for water and air; expand Medicaid; create affordable housing; address food insecurity; enact living wage laws; grant equal rights to LGBTQ+ citizens; release body cam videos; implement a plastic bag ban + more
NC House of Representatives District 114
Susan Fisher (incumbent) | Priorities: Help provide jobs for working families; environmental clean-up and sustainability; advocating civil rights for all people; attracting new industry, including green technology; increase funding for education and child healthcare
Tim Hyatt | Priorities: No information provided
Lyndon Smith | Priorities: No information provided
NC House of Representatives District 115
Jon Ager (incumbent) | Priorities: Full repeal of HB2 and passage of the Equal Rights Amendment; create education opportunities for all; support renewable energy; clean up the environment
Mark Crawford | Priorities: Creating a favorable economic climate for job growth and bringing jobs to the area; improving the education system
NC House of Representatives District 116
Eric Burns | Priorities: Support economic recovery for NC; support state education and teachers; support Second Amendment rights
Brian Turner (incumbent) | Priorities: Hold polluters accountable for environmental damage; reduce healthcare costs; restore education funding; refuse money from special interests
NC District Court Judge District 28 Seat 6
Andrea Dray | No information given
NC District Court Judge District 28 Seat 7
Calvin Hill | No information given
Buncombe County Commission Districts
See which Buncombe County Commission district you’re in here. Commissioner Mike Fryar passed away two weeks ago, but his name will appear on the ballot. Check out the candidates’ responses to the Asheville Area Arts Council’s county creative sector survey.
Board of Commissioners Chairman
Brownie Newman (D) | Priorities: Support public education through teacher pay raises and new investments + renovations in schools; continue to move toward goal of 100% renewable energy in Buncombe County
Robert Pressley (R) | Priorities: Common sense leadership; deep generational knowledge of Buncombe County and its residents
Buncombe County Commission District 1
District 1 is a newly-formed district that includes Sandy Mush, Leicester, Alexander, Jupiter, Weaverville, Woodfin, and North Asheville in northern Buncombe County.
Glenda P. Weinert (R) | Priorities: Work to balance county resources and ensure responsible spending and transparency; make pre-K more accessible; work collaboratively with law enforcement, drug counselors + others to combat the opioid crisis + more. DYK: Glenda is an Alexander resident and has served as the NC Childcare Commission Chair (six years), as well as several nonprofit boards.
Terri Wells (D) | Priorities: Improving access to high-quality broadband internet; building more greenways + recreational assets; improving local education and increasing access; mitigating the effects of climate change; using tax dollars raised from tourism to improve the lives of residents. DYK: Terri is a ninth generation farmer in Sandy Mush. She serves on the Buncombe County Agricultural Advisory Board and was a creator of the Farm Heritage Trail.
Buncombe County Commission District 2
This district now includes most of the eastern half of Buncombe County.
Anthony Penland (R) | Priorities: Work to improve infrastructure to match the county’s growth; support development that keeps the unique flavor of the community; transparency in government; cost-effective environmental protection + more. DYK: Anthony is the Swannanoa Fire Chief.
Jasmine Beach-Ferrara (D; incumbent) | Priorities: Supporting access to quality early childhood education from birth through universal Pre-K; continuing multi-pronged response to the opioid crisis through supporting new treatment programs, harm reduction, and funding; investing in large-scale affordable housing projects and creating a housing trust fund; supporting renewable energy + more. DYK: Jasmine helped create the county’s Early Childhood Education and Development Fund and worked with partners to develop Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid dependence at the Buncombe County Detention Center.
Buncombe County Commission District 3
This new district includes most of southerwestern Buncombe County.
Joe Belcher (R; incumbent) | Priorities: Prioritization of recreation, education, land (especially farmland) protection, and practical infrastructure improvement; meeting the housing needs of the community; working with the state to advocate for more sustainable development + more. DYK: Belcher has 30+ years of experience in the manufactured homes industry and serves as a deacon and Sunday School teacher at his church. He is part of the county’s housing committee + school capital fund commission.
Parker Sloan (D) | Priorities: Preserving the French Broad River + its tributaries; creating affordable housing for low and middle-income families; diversifying local economy to raise wages; funding new + reliable public transportation infrastructure; renegotiating the hotel occupancy tax to support locals; raising teacher pay; working on a collaborative approach to opioid addiction and needle disposal; creating robust gun policies; providing paid family leave for county employees. DYK: Parker is the Senior Community & Economic Development Manager at Cypress Creek Renewables, a national utility scale solar energy company.
Buncombe County Register of Deeds
Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor
Alan Ditmore | Priorities: Vote against conservation project proposals that do not involve contraception
Gary Higgins | Priorities: Former Soil & Water Conservation Director
Buncombe County Schools Board of Education At-Large
Buncombe County Schools Board of Education North Buncombe
Buncombe County Schools Board of Education Owen District
Buncombe County Schools Board of Education Roberson District
Asheville City Council
There are no Asheville City election districts currently in place. City Council races are nonpartisan.
Rich Lee | Priorities: Improving infrastructure (more sidewalks, crosswalks, bus stops, etc.); increasing housing availability + affordability through land trusts, city-built housing + more; transparency in local government + more. DYK: Rich co-founded the Facebook group Asheville Politics in 2012.
Sandra Kilgore | Priorities: Expand affordable housing + address homelessness; prioritize living wage. DYK: Sandra is currently on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and is a Southside resident.
Kim Roney | Priorities: Create deeply affordable housing through projects like BeLoved’s, as well as offering eviction protection + home repair funds; make local government transparent + participatory (especially around issues like budget and service on boards and commissions); address climate change through tree canopy protection + other goals; create a fare-free regional transit network + more. DYK: Kim was a founding member of Asheville FM and currently serves on the city’s Multi-Modal Transportation Commission + Transit Committee.
Nicole Townsend | Left race
Sage Turner | Priorities: Create affordable housing by building more units, working with community partners to prevent eviction; increase transit funding; pay living wages; plant 50,000 trees by 2040; move fully to renewable energy by 2030; weatherize homes; increase bus ridership + more. DYK: Sage has served as Chair of the Affordable Housing Advisory Commission and the Downtown Commission.
Keith Young | Incumbent | Priorities: Continue to work towards and solidify a culture of equity + inclusion in city government; create a Green New Deal for Asheville focused around affordable housing, climate resilience, eliminating fares on public transit, offering solar credits, hiring an urban forester, growing jobs + economic mobility + more. DYK: Keith was elected to City Council in 2015. He also serves as a Deputy Clerk of Superior Court for the 28th Judicial District. An Asheville native, he was captain of Asheville High School’s football team.
Town of Biltmore Forest Mayor
George F. Goosmann III | No information available
Town of Biltmore Forest Commissioner
Sandy Cogburn | No information available
Edward Kelly | No information available
Doris Loomis | No information available
Town of Black Mountain Alderman
Check out a Q&A with the candidates here.
Larry B. Harris | Priorities: Current alderman; responsible financial management; greenway expansion; completion of I-40 exchange at Blue Ridge Rd.
Doug Hay | Priorities: Intentional development; improved green spaces; walkable downtown; increased community involvement
Tonia Holderman | Priorities: Address local infrastructure needs; help families meet basic needs; support police, fire, and emergency services
Pam King | Priorities: Focus on accountability, integrity, and transparency,
Charles (Mike) Sobol | Left race
Matthew Turner | Priorities: Transparency in government; affordable living; neighborhood watch
Justyn L. Whitson | Priorities: Improve infrastructure; improve public safety through support of police and fire departments
Jennifer Willet | Priorities: Fiscal responsibility regarding taxpayer funds; growth of greenway and recreation areas; improve stormwater management
Town of Montreat Mayor
Tim Helms | Sitting mayor; no information available
Town of Montreat Commissioner
Jane Alexander | Current commissioner; no information available
Kathryn (Kitty) Fouche | Current commissioner; no information available
General Election timeline
Mark your calendars. 🗓️ Find all of your General Election voting dates + deadlines listed below.
Sep. 22: National Voter Registration Day
Oct. 24: National Vote Early Day
Nov. 3: Election Day
Nov. 4: Preliminary results expected; certified results could take longer.
- Oct. 9: Voter registration deadline (same-day registration still available at polling places)
- Oct. 15: Early voting begins
- Oct. 27: Absentee ballot request deadline
- Oct. 31: Early voting ends
- Nov. 6: Absentee ballot return deadline
As we get deeper into the election cycle, there’s a lot of terminology circulating out there, and we want to make sure you have a (somewhat) comprehensive resource to help you discern some meaning from it all. We give you AVLtoday’s election dictionary — or, if you’ll indulge us, our electionary. If we missed a word or phrase you’ve been wondering about, be sure to email us or drop a note in the comments section to let us know. Source: Votesmart.org
Absentee voting — Similar to mail-in voting, this process allows voters to submit their ballot through the mail or in-person, without going to the polls on Election Day.
Bond — A debt security issued by a local, state, or national government to support spending toward specific government programs or obligations. Often requires constituent support and appears on ballots for voter determination.
Certified results — The final and official results of an election, as verified by the local elections office. These results confirm that all ballots have been counted.
Citizen — Any person who is a legally-recognized member of a locality, state, or country. Except under exclusionary circumstances, all citizens have the right to exercise their vote.
Congressional districts — The US is divided into 435 jurisdictions for the purposes of electing members to the House of Representatives in Congress. Each district is meant to be proportionately sized for its resident population.
Constituents — The voters within a specific locality or district; the people elected officials represent.
Electoral College — The voters of each state that formally elect the United States President and Vice President. Each state has as many electoral college votes as it does US Representatives and US Senators in Congress combined.
General election — A regular election between candidates of multiple parties, as opposed to a primary election where the candidates are within the same political party.
House of Representatives — One of two houses within the federal branch of government called Congress. Each state has representatives based on its population.
Incumbent — If a candidate running for election is also the current seat-holder for that position, they are called the incumbent.
Mail-in ballot — An official ballot that is submitted to the local elections board by mail instead of in-person at a designated polling place.
Polling place — A designated location where voters cast their ballots in-person on Election Day or during an early voting period.
Popular vote — The raw number of votes cast by individual voters within a locality, state, or country. Within the US system of voting, the popular vote can differ from the deciding votes of the Electoral College.
Precinct — Each city, county, or geographic area is divided by address into precincts to assign polling places and gather votes. A precinct can sometimes be called an election district or voting district.
Preliminary results — The projected or anticipated results of an election, usually announced when the majority of districts are reporting. These results are not definitive and can change as ballots continue to be processed and counted on or after Election Day.
Provisional ballot — Type of ballot used to collect a vote when there are questions about the voter’s identity or ability to vote at that precinct. A provisional ballot is counted when the voter’s information is confirmed.
Referendum — The legal process of submitting to the voters for their approval or rejection of proposed state or rejection of proposed state of local laws or constitutional amendments.
Senate — One of two houses within the federal branch of government called Congress. Each state has two senators.
Special election — An election to fill a vacant position if an officeholder dies, resigns, or is impeached. It is not part of the regular election schedule.
Swing state — Any US state where the level of support for two major political parties is considered to be fairly equal on both sides.
Unaffiliated voters — Voters who are not registered to vote with a specific political party are called unaffiliated.
Voter turnout — The percentage of registered, eligible voters within a locality who cast a ballot during any given election.
This is part of our ongoing election coverage. You can learn more about our Editorial Ethics Policy and how we prioritize information regarding the upcoming elections here.