North Carolina early voting turnout trending higher than last Midterm

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Friday, November 4, 2022
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More than 1.7 million North Carolinians have already cast their vote ahead of Tuesday's Midterm Election as of Friday, November 4.

More than 1.7 million North Carolinians have already cast their vote ahead of Tuesday's Midterm Election.

"There's so much local change to track and it's good to not just be focused on the big picture, but also focus on what's going on in your own community," said Travis Cagney, a Durham voter who voted early.

Cagney said he prefers early voting because of the shorter lines and less restrictive locations.

Early voting numbers from the North Carolina State Board of Election reveal 23.5% of registered voters in the state have taken advantage of early voting options. This is higher than the 21.8% of voters who voted early in the 2018 Midterm Election.

This is welcomed news for Kate Fellman's organization, You Can Vote, which aims to increase voter registration and turnout.

"Over the past couple of years, you know, it's been really hard and but the good thing is that people are understanding how their elected officials impact their lives," said Fellman, the founder of You Can Vote.

Data also shows voter turnout so far is higher for Democrats than Republicans (26.8% v. 24.7%), which is usually a trend in every election.

Black voters are turning out at the same rates as four years ago with around 21% already casting ballots.

"If that goes up a little bit, then that can be good for Democrats. If that goes down a little bit that can be good for Republicans," explained David McLennan, a political science professor at Meredith College. "Everybody's keeping their eye on the specific demographic groups and trying to interpret what it means."

Younger voters are another group that McLennan said Democrats would love to see increase turnout this election. So far the youngest voters', 18-24 years old, are voting at the same rate as in 2018; representing just around 3% of the early ballots cast.

"Young voters are motivated pretty strongly by the abortion issue, but will that motivate them to actually vote? That's the question. So I think this is a really interesting election in that we have some common issues across all voters and then some voting groups have very different perspectives on what's second or third in terms of their issues," he said.

The Pew Research Center reported the economy, violent crime, and foreign policy are top issues for voters this election.

McLennan said higher voter turnout at early voting sites doesn't necessarily mean this election will attract more voters than in past years.

"It could be that we're just seeing people switch from Election Day voting. But all the other signs point to a higher turnout this year," he said.

McLennan's own poll found voters' enthusiasm is high as around 70% of people polled said they were not satisfied with the direction of the country.

"People are just motivated to vote these days because the stakes are so high. We've got democracy on the ballot and the key issues on the ballot," McLennan said.

Around 53% of registered voters in North Carolina participated in the last Midterm Election. The current turnout for this election is around 24%, but advocates are hopeful it beats 2018.

"I think people are really sick of the partisan divide and they're really looking to come together to move forward as a community and as a state together. And by casting your vote and doing your civic duty, it's just part of healing together as a country," Fellman said.

Voters can still cast their ballots early and register to vote until 3 p.m. on Saturday.

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