Here is data from the seventh week since the start of voting in North Carolina, including the second week of one-stop voting.
No last-minute rush to request absentee ballots
The total number of requests as of the morning of Monday, October 12 stands at 1,435,725 (see figure 1 for trendline) according to data from the NC State Board of Elections (SBE). That includes 661,143 Democrats, 282,562 Republicans, and 482,935 unaffiliated.
With the option of one-stop (early in-person) voting available, absentee-by-mail requests have plunged to less than 40,000, indicating that there has not been a last-minute rush on absentee-by-mail ballot requests. The number of requests for last week will be revised upwards by a few thousand once all counties get their reports in.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is tomorrow (October 27), so it appears that less than 1.5 million North Carolina voters will request absentee ballots.
Democratic proportion of early voters less than in 2016.
As seen at the Civitas Institute’s Vote Tracker (Figure 2), 3,171,216 ballots have been submitted and accepted as of October 25, with 75.5% of those cast by one-stop and 24.5% by mail. The portion of ballots cast by mail dropped from 39.9% a week earlier. The current trends indicate that the portion of ballots voted by mail will drop to less than 20% of all ballots counted this election. While that is 4-5 times the number of mail ballots cast in North Carolina in a typical election, it is much less than the 30-40% predicted by the SBE Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell last spring, indicating that some election funding may have been misallocated resources towards mail voting that could have better been spent on in-person voting.
By comparison, the turnout by party on the eleventh day of early voting in 2016 were 44.1% Democrats, 30.1% Republicans, and 24.9% unaffiliated voters.
Voter registration takes a partisan turn during early voting
With normal voter registration ended on October 9, there was a marked decline in registrations. As seen at the Civitas Voter Registration Changes webpage, there was a net gain of 21,153 registrations last week compared to 45,990 the week before. This week’s registration report comes from a combination of same-day registrations during early voting and late-reported regular registrations.
Unusually, both parties had higher registration rates than did unaffiliated registrations. There was a net gain of 8,166 Republicans and 7,905 Democrats compared to just 4,823 unaffiliated registration. There has been a net increase of 71,384 unaffiliated voters, 74,167 Republicans, and 50,030 Democrats since September 5, the day after absentee ballots were first mailed out (see Figure 4).
Over a comparable period in 2016, there was a net gain of 79,267 unaffiliated voters, 41,452 Democrats, and 38,308 Republicans.
Will early voting returns continue to slide?
If you look back at figure 1, you will see that there has been an almost continuous slide in votes-per-date from the record-setting first day of early voting on October 15. Compare that to 2016, when the number of people voting increased each week.
While that increased early voting (including absentee-by-mail) may have been a sign of voter enthusiasm, and we have already exceeded the 2016 early voting totals, we may simply be running out of early voters. Unless we have a voter turnout rate unheard of in recent history, we should expect the downward vote trend to continue this week.