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Democracy NC reports: Early voter turnout rising

The chart compares vote totals after the first weekend of early voting. It is important to note, however, that the 2018 total is the result of five days of Early Voting compared to the other years’ four days, due to 2018’s new Wednesday start. (graph courtesy of Democracy NC)

Democracy North Carolina is studying early voting every week and releasing a subsequent in-depth analyses of turnout patterns across the state.

The analyses, which will be released twice per week, are based on one-stop absentee ballot data available from the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. Last week, the voting rights organization’s report looked at the first day of early voting and compared it to the last midterm election in 2014, but noted there is no perfect election to use for comparison.

“In the last midterm election, the Early Voting period was truncated to only 10 day by legislation that was eventually overturned to restore 17 days of Early Voting in time for the 2016 General Election,” the analysis states.

This week, the organization is looking at the first weekend of early voting in North Carolina.

“This year, only 27 counties had Early Voting sites open on the first Saturday of Early Voting, compared to 48 counties in 2016, and over 80 counties in 2014 (although there were only two Saturdays total in 2014 due to the shortened [early voting] period, compared to three Saturdays this year and in 2016),” the analysis states. “On the first Sunday of Early Voting, 9 counties had sites open, compared to 10 in 2014 and 12 in 2016. Turnout patterns over the weekend roughly reflected the pattern of sites open — with reduced Saturday numbers (27,605) compared to the first Saturday of [early voting] in 2014 (49,996) and 2016 (68,893). On Sunday, more voters cast ballots (13,057) than in 2014 (12,193).”

Here are some more of the organization’s findings in this week’s analysis:

• 80 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have seen more voters this cycle than at this point (after the first weekend) in 2014. Fifty-eight counties have seen an increase in the number of Black voters compared to this point in 2014.

• Across the state, 52% more white voters (322,165) have cast ballots at Early Voting locations than at this point in the 2014 cycle (211,571). More than double the number of white under 26 (12,139) have cast ballots than at this point in 2014 (5771).

• Across the state, 9% more Black voters (83,285) have cast ballots at Early Voting locations than at this point in the 2014 cycle (76,218), as have 10% more Black women, and 34% more Black voters under 26.

• In the 4 of the 8 counties where the majority of registered voters are Black, fewer votes have been cast compared to this point in 2014 – Vance, Edgecombe, Warren and Northampton.

• First weekend turnout for Asian voters, Native American voters, and Biracial voters far outstrips 2014 numbers.

• Following reports of spikes in registration among the youngest voters this summer, more than double the number of voters under 26 (18,401) have cast ballots this cycle compared to this point in 2014 (8,785).

• Democratic, Republican, and Unaffiliated voters are are all surpassing 2014 numbers.

For more information about Democracy NC’s research and findings this week, read the full report here.

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