With just one day to go before election day, here are the latest available numbers.
No last-minute rush to request or cast absentee ballots
The last day to request an absentee ballot was October 27. While there will be some upward adjustment from late-reporting counties the total number of requests stands at 1,445,328 (see figure 1 for trendline) according to data from the NC State Board of Elections (SBE). That includes 669,052 Democrats, 288,169 Republicans, and 489,829 unaffiliated.
The SBE reports on its main page that 939,690 of those absentee-by-mail ballots have been accepted and that 158,500 of those ballots are “outstanding,” as of the morning of November 2. That means that about 347,138 voters who had requested absentee ballots decided to vote early in-person.
With only one more day to submit ballots (which must be postmarked by November 3), it looks like a little less than a fifth of all ballots will be submitted absentee-by-mail.
As seen in figure 2, mail ballot returns in 2020 have been generally flat during the early voting period with an uptick during the week of October 19-25 before dropping back down last week. That differs from 2016 when mail returns increased through the day before election day.
Based on the pattern of mail voting we have seen so far this election, we can expect 40,000-50,000 mail ballot votes to be accepted on November 2 and 3, and another 15-20,000 legal ballots to come in after election day.
Early voting: Unaffiliateds up, Democrats down, Republicans treading water
As seen at the Civitas Institute’s Vote Tracker (Figure 3), 4,550,962 ballots have been submitted and accepted as of November 1, with 79.4% of those cast by one-stop and 20.6% by mail. That compares to 3,147,210 ballots one-stop and absentee-by-mail ballots cast in 2016.
Those returned ballots include 1,701365 Democrats (37.4%, down 4.2 percentage points from 2016), 1,443,822 Republicans (31.7%, down 0.2 points) and 1,381,172 unaffilliated voters (30.4%, up 4.2) (see Figure 4)
According to Old North State Blog, about 20% of Republicans who voted before election day this year voted on election day in 2016 compared to 17% of Democrats who fit the same pattern. That means that the traditional Republican election day advantage could be slightly diminished this year. The unknown at this point is whether the decline in the Republican election day advantage will be as steep as the decline Democrats have seen in their early voting advantage.
While normal voter registration ended on October 9, we still saw registrations due to same-day registration during one-stop (early) voting and some late verification of earlier regular registration. As seen at the Civitas Voter Registration Changes webpage, there was a net gain of 33,168 registrations last week compared to 21,153 the week before.
As with the previous week, both parties had higher registration rates than did unaffiliated registrations. There was a net gain of 15,132 Republicans and 10,021 Democrats compared to just 7,735 unaffiliated registration. There has been a net increase of 89,299 Republicans, 79,119 unaffiliated voters, and 68,015 Democrats since September 5, the day after absentee ballots were first mailed out (see Figure 5).
Over a comparable period in 2016, there was a net gain of 88,183 unaffiliated voters, 51,467 Democrats, and 50,535 Republicans. So, there have been 9,064 fewer unaffiliated registrations, 16,584 more Democratic registrations, and 38,764 more Republican registrations during the voting period than during a similar time in 2016
A final note
To see what to expect on election night, come back to Civitas on election morning for a preview.