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Polls open for 2014 primary elections

The polls have opened across North Carolina on a primary election day that features a handful of closely watched races.

Polls are open until 7:30 p.m. as voters select the candidates who will compete in the general election in November – or, in a few cases, will win election because they won’t face opposition in the fall general election.

The highest-profile race Tuesday is the Republican U.S. Senate primary, which has drawn a field of nine candidates.

The top three GOP hopefuls in that race are N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius; physician Greg Brannon; and Mark Harris, pastor at First Baptist Church of Charlotte.

The latest poll gives Tillis 40 percent of the vote, the minimum needed to avoid a runoff election July 15. That same poll had Brannon with 28 percent and Harris with 15 percent.

Tillis has gained support from Gov. Pat McCrory, Brannon from Tea Party activisits like U.S. Sen. Paul Rand, and Harris from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The winner will face incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan in November. Hagan has two opponents in Tuesday’s primary, but neither of those men has campaigned actively.

Tuesday’s election is the first under a new set of laws adopted by the General Assembly last year. The most controversial of those measures – a requirement that voters bring identification with them to the polls – doesn’t go into effect until 2016.

But voters today must cast ballots in the precinct where they are registered. In the past, people could vote outside their home precincts, and the votes would be counted as provisional ballots. That no longer is the case.

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