Voters stand in line waiting to cast ballots in  the 2020 election at a Charlotte early voting site. (Photo for Cardinal & Pine by Alvin Jacobs Jr.) Democracy in action.
Voters stand in line waiting to cast ballots in the 2020 election at a Charlotte early voting site. (Photo for Cardinal & Pine by Alvin Jacobs Jr.)

If you want a say in the directions the country and state are headed, the time to vote is now. More than 3 million ballots have already been cast in North Carolina.

North Carolinians are serious about voting in this election, as turnout numbers from the State Board of Elections continue to show.

With just eight days until Nov. 3, a total of 3,171,217 votes have been cast through absentee (by mail) voting or in-person early voting in this election by North Carolinians.

That amounts to 43% of the state’s 7.3 million registered voters—a staggering number at this point in the election cycle. (To put that in perspective, just 65% of the state’s registered voters cast their votes during the 2016 election.)

North Carolina is a key state for both Democrat Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, making voter turnout this year in North Carolina all the more important. Of course, that’s not the only thing on the ballot with a high-stakes race for the US Senate between Republican Thom Tillis and his Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham as well as a gubernatorial election and more.

Check out more of Cardinal & Pine’s election coverage to find out what the big issues are this year, as well as more information on how to vote.

Here are the leading counties when it comes to voter turnout through Monday: Chatham (57% voter turnout so far); Durham and Orange (52% turnout); Buncombe (50%); Mitchell (49%) and Brunswick (49%), according to NC Board of Elections data.

There are only a few days left to cast your votes early—the early voting period extends through Oct. 31. Make sure you check in with your county board of election as times and location of early voting sites will vary. Some counties also have tools to show estimated wait times to cast your early votes, with minimal waits expected in the next few days.

(This reporter had just a 10-minute wait at her Orange County early voting site the first weekend of early voting, for example.)

And the deadline to request an absentee ballot is at 5 p.m. on Oct. 27.

As long as your ballot is postmarked by Election Day, it will be eligible to be counted a few days later (a lawsuit over the number of days is now before the Supreme Court). As of 1 p.m. on Monday, the NCSBE says that of the 1.4 million absentee ballots that have been requested, 55% (788,325) have been counted.

After Halloween, you’ll have to either turn in an absentee ballot or vote in person at your regular precinct on Tuesday, Nov. 3.