RALEIGH, N.C. ― Hillary Clinton made the last speech of her historic presidential campaign in the Tar Heel state on Tuesday morning.
A raucous crowd at North Carolina State University welcomed the Democratic presidential nominee hours before polling sites opened across the state. Clinton encouraged those in the crowd to “bring out your friends, your roommates [and] strangers on the street” and to “talk about what’s at stake.”
“I really believe it’s the most important election of our lifetimes because we’ve never had a clearer choice,” she said. “It is a choice between division or unity, between strong and steady leadership or a loose cannon that could risk everything.”
“We don’t have to accept a dark, divisive vision of America,” she added. “Tomorrow you can vote for a big, whole-hearted America.”
Clinton ran through her positions on equal pay for women, making community college free, lessening student loan debt, addressing climate change and reforming the criminal justice system. She also denounced HB 2, which stops local governments from passing anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people and orders that individuals can only use restrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificates.
“It’s not just my name or Donald Trump’s on the ballot — it’s the kind of country we want,” she said.
North Carolina is a critical state for the former secretary of state and her Republican opponent Trump in this year’s presidential race. Clinton has held a steady lead for most of the race, but a low early turnout among black voters in North Carolina could hurt her chances of winning the state.
Much of this is due to members of the state’s Republican Party aggressively limiting early voting opportunities. The state GOP sent out a memo in August encouraging precincts to make “party line changes to early voting,” and 23 county election boards reduced early voting hours. Nine boards completely eliminated Sunday voting. Since the Supreme Court struck down portions of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, North Carolina has closed 27 polling locations.
The North Carolina NAACP has sued county election officials for canceling voter registrations. Election officials in Beaufort, Moore and Cumberland counties purged voter registrations from the rolls after campaign mailers sent to voter addresses were returned as undeliverable.
The NC NAACP alleged the cancellations were an effort to suppress the black vote. On Friday, a federal judge ordered county election boards to restore the registrations.