Turnout may be tempered in the upcoming election after Hurricane Florence impaired North Carolina’s infrastructure, displaced thousands of voters and distracted from political issues as candidates jockey for favor. The deadly storm arrived just as door-knocking, campaign advertisements and fundraising started to ramp up. At stake this year are a state Supreme Court seat, congressional seats, six proposed constitutional amendments and control of North Carolina’s legislature, along with municipal races. Republicans control the legislature, and Democrats hope to gain influence by winning four House seats or six Senate seats to break the GOP supermajority. But Florence has thrown a wrench into the Republican and Democratic machines. It dumped record amounts of rain from the coast to the Piedmont, causing flooding that’s displaced countless residents and complicated the election preparation process.
More than 10,000 people were living in shelters as of Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press conference.
It’s unclear how long people will be prevented from returning home and whether damage from the storm will affect voting locations. Election Day is Nov. 6, early voting starts Oct. 17 and absentee ballots became available earlier this month.
An immediate effect of Florence is that several county elections boards are bogged down and can’t mail them out. Damage from Florence on Tuesday left 227 zip codes — mostly in southeastern North Carolina — without service Tuesday, according to an analysis of U.S. Postal Service disruptions by Bill Busa, a data scientist who founded NCgovote.org.