Here is data from the third week since that start of voting in North Carolina.
Absentee requests drop but by less than it seems
The NC State Board of Elections reported that 69,919 absentee ballot requests were accepted last week, a decline of 38,081 from the previous week (see figure 1). However, the total from the previous week grew from 66,422 to 108,000 as some counties that had not yet reported for that week made their reports. It is not unreasonable to assume that we will see similar growth with this week’s report.
The total number of requests as of yesterday stands at 1,076,247, including 524,450 Democrats, 195,039 Republicans, and 351,910 unaffiliated. The number of requests is 10.9 times higher than at the same point in 2016. Last week it was 13.2 times higher than at the same point in 2016.
While we will likely see a continued decline in absentee ballot requests as the parties gear up for early voting, we could see as many as 1.6 million absentee ballot requests submitted by the October 27 deadline.
The pace of absentee ballot returns has accelerated
As seen at the Civitas Institute’s Vote Tracker, 248,400 absentee ballots have been accepted as of yesterday (the official acceptance process starts tomorrow when all 100 county boards of elections have the first of five weekly meetings to vote on accepting ballots). That is double the total number of accepted ballots as of last week (with the quickened pace reflected in figure 2). That represents about 5.0% of the roughly five million votes expected in the 2020 election in North Carolina. That also likely represents an undercount of the actual number of accepted ballots since some counties, such as Buncombe, have continued to be slow in reporting returns.
We know that many more Democrats than Republicans have requested absentee ballots, but what about the rate at which those ballots are being returned?
As can be seen in figure 3, Democrats have so far returned ballots at a higher rate than have Republican or unaffiliated voters. As of September 27, 25.6% of the absentee ballots requested by Democrats have been returned and accepted compared to 20.7% for Republicans and 20.8% for unaffiliated voters.
Republicans continue to out-register Democrats and unaffiliate voters
I noted last week how Republicans had a voter registration advantage over Democrats in the first two weeks since September 5 (the day after absentee ballots were first mailed to voters). As seen at the Civitas Voter Registration Changes webpage, they expanded that advantage this week. There has been a net increase of 25,248 Republicans, 21,684 unaffiliated voters, and 15,109 Democrats (see figure 4) since September 5, the day after absentee ballots were first mailed out.
That is a change from a similar time in 2016 (September 10 to October 1), when Democrats barely out-registered Republicans 10,656 to 10,501 with an increase of 24,240 unaffiliated voters.