NC Vote Tracker is back for the 2012 General Election! Vote Tracker is the user-friendly database at the Civitas Institute’s Carolina Transparency website (www.carolinatransparency.com/votetracker/) that helps us all wade through early voting numbers. The data comes straight from the State Board of Elections (SBOE) website, where it is refreshed each morning with the previous day’s early voting activity. First introduced in 2010, NC Vote Tracker allows us to break down the early voting data by party, age, gender, race, congressional and state House and Senate districts.
The first numbers we will be seeing from Vote Tracker are from absentee by-mail ballots. This year, just as in 2010, the absentee ballots were scheduled to be mailed Sept. 7, 60 days ahead of Election Day, but most counties failed to meet the statutorily required deadline. The two largest counties (Mecklenburg and Wake) told Civitas that they would be mailing their absentee by-mail ballots on September 22, so expect a jump in the numbers at that time. Unfortunately, this delay will have the biggest effect on the military vote. The biggest jump in numbers will come the day after One-Stop voting, which begins on Thursday, Oct. 18 — you can be sure that this form of voting will not be delayed.
In 2008 more than half of the votes in North Carolina were cast early. Of the 4,352,739 total votes cast in the 2008 General election, 2,411,116 were cast at One-Stop early voting, 227,799 by absentee by-mail voting, and 1,714,824 on Election Day.
In view of the fact that early voting has become very popular, we should expect most voters to vote early this year too. (It is important to note that in the 12 years since one-stop early voting was enacted, it has not increased voter turnout in North Carolina) We can also expect more people to vote this year, seeing that on August 30, 2008 there were 5,921,166 people registered to vote in North Carolina and on September 1, 2012 the State Board of Elections documented 6,026,628 registered voters. That’s an 8.2 percent voter registration increase in just four years.
Perhaps the most revealing numbers and those that will give us a better picture of the voters’ mood in this year’s election are the voter registration trends after the 2008 General Election. Since January 2009 the Democratic Party voter rolls have decreased by 109,945 voter (-1.75 percent), Republicans have lost 7,957 voters (-0.13 percent), Libertarians have gained 11,410 voters (+.18) percent and the unaffiliated ranks have grown 222,205 voters (+3.54 percent). With the knowledge that the unaffiliated ranks have grown and both major parties have decreased in number, we will be looking at voter turnout in the early voting period with a whole new perspective.
So, instead of waiting until after the election to find out who voted, we can get a head start by utilizing NC Vote Tracker to track voters who choose to vote early by mail or in-person at an early voting site.
(Voter registration numbers are derived from North Carolina State Board of Elections data via www.carolinatransparency.com/voterregistration.)