The North Carolina State Board of Elections says it expects that it will have processed 97% or more of all ballots cast in the general election on Nov. 3 and that the unofficial results will be reported by the end of election night.
The announcement is in line with election watchers’ predictions about which states will release their results earliest. North Carolina is one of the states where mail-in ballots can be processed as the state receives them, easing the burden of tallying votes on Election Day.
The North Carolina announcement stands in contrast to warnings from election officials in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where many expect that it will take days for a winner to be determined in the presidential race, as well as hundreds of down-ballot contests.
North Carolina is not only a hotly contested battleground state between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden; the state is also home to several competitive House races and a closely watched Senate race between Republican incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld North Carolina’s policy accepting mailed-in ballots that arrive as late as Nov. 12, so long as they are postmarked by Election Day.
Like North Carolina, officials in Florida and Arizona are allowed to process ballots up to two weeks before Election Day, meaning that results there will also likely be more readily available
Sun Belt states like Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas have seen significantly higher early voter turnout than Midwestern swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to the U.S. Elections Project.
In most cases, the Sun Belt states are approaching or have surpassed the total number of votes cast in the 2016 presidential election.
Like all states, North Carolina's results are unofficial until the statewide certification, otherwise known as a canvass, which is scheduled for November 24, during a meeting of the State Board.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NC board says 97% of votes will be counted by end of election night