More than 313,000 NC voters request absentee ballots, 10 times more than in 2016

North Carolinians are wildly enthused about voting in the 2020 election, if the number of absentee requests is any indication.

Amid a year with a global pandemic, unprecedented unemployment numbers and calls for racial equality and police reform, the election already seemed to be historically important. With many uncomfortable with the prospect of voting at a polling place given COVID-19 concerns, North Carolina is getting a head start on the voting-by-mail process.

The state will become the first state to send out ballots for the 2020 general election. North Carolina will initiate the vote-by-mail process on Sept. 4, two months ahead of Election Day. Eligible voters who have requested absentee ballots in advance will get ballots by mail.

SEE ALSO | Absentee by mail voting in North Carolina: What you need to know

More than 313,000 North Carolinians have requested ballots by mail, dwarfing the number from 2016, where just under 28,000 requested via mail. An ABC News report states registered Democrats account for 53% of the requests, with 31% unaffiliated and 15% registered Republicans.

Earlier this month, ABC11 found that through Aug. 9, North Carolina voters had submitted 163,374 requests for absentee by-mail ballots for the 2020 general election, more than seven times as many as the 22,074 requests submitted at the same time in 2016.

SEE ALSO | Confusing absentee ballot requests showing up in your mailbox? Here's what you need to know

"We're seeing the prospect of a really dramatic change in the method of voting in the state," Tomas Lopez, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, told ABC News. "In the 2016 general (election), 4% of the population voted by mail; our election officials estimate we could have as many as 30 or 40% of the electorate voting by mail this fall," Lopez said.

Republican delegates met in Charlotte at the Republican National Convention on Monday to formally nominate Donald Trump and Mike Pence, who are expected to accept the nominations later this week.

Voters are allowed to request absentee ballots by email or fax after a state law changed in June. Any registered voter in North Carolina may vote an absentee ballot by mail.
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.