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North Carolina bathroom law impacting national election

Posted at 5:34 PM, Oct 14, 2016

From protests over officer-involved shootings to clean-up from Hurricane Matthew, the state of North Carolina has had its share of headline grabbing issues this year. But one in particular has the potential to determine the outcome of the presidential race.

House Bill 2, the so called 'Bathroom Bill" is a contentious issue in North Carolina. But it could have more far reaching implications.

The controversial law would require people to use the bathrooms in schools and government buildings in North Carolina that match the gender on their birth certificates. The downtown restaurant Raleigh Raw has a sign on the front door opposing House Bill 2.

"I think that's hopefully motivating people to get out and vote," says employee Emily Cristaldi. "Especially like younger people like my generation."

Chris Sgro runs the group Equality North Carolina and is also a democratic state representative.

"The climate is so sour towards Republicans in North Carolina because of this egregious law," Sgro says.

Polls show the incumbent republican governor who signed the bill into law is trailing his democratic opponent right now.

"It's having a deep affect on the presidential election here in North Carolina," according to Sgro.

That's because Sgro says turnout is key in this battleground state where every vote counts.  

"All North Carolinians care about the financial impact that HB 2 has negatively had on our state," Sgro explains. "That's why this is so prominent in this election."

The NBA, NCAA, major companies and musicians have relocated their events. But despite the backlash, the bill has served as a rallying cry for other voters.

On the lawn of the state capitol, Billy Graham's son Franklin encouraged voters to cast their ballots for candidates who support biblical principals.

"I think all the publicity that North Carolina has gotten I think is going to galvanize a lot of people," says North Carolina voter Dan Martin.

Martin believes that could bring out more republican and socially-conservative voters on election day. And in this swing state, whether more republicans or democrats show up could determine the next president.

"I think it's going to depend on voter turnout," Martin says. "I think it's going to be crucial I think North Carolina is going to be a big player and I think the election is going to be close."

House Bill 2 also bans cities from passing certain anti-discrimination laws to protect gays and lesbians. One study says the bill could cost the state 5 billion dollars a year.