North Carolina has reached a huge milestone! As seen at Civitas’ Carolina Transparency, as of June 27, there are 7,000,747 voter registrations in the state.
This is a cause to celebrate, right?
Well, it is actually not that big a deal; we have been here before. North Carolina had previously crossed the 7,000,000 registration mark during the week of September 8, 2018. Registrations continued to rise over the course of that year, reaching a high of 7,137,713 on December 29, 2018.
Then came the great registration purge of 2019, when counties performed their biennial voter registration list maintenance. County boards of elections are required by law to make “a diligent effort not less than twice each year to remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters, and to update the addresses and other necessary data of persons who remain on the official lists of eligible voters.”
As seen in figure 1, list maintenance happens every January in an odd-numbered year, which is when the boards have complete data from the last election cycle. The January 2019 maintenance looks particularly large both because it was (with many people who have not voted since 2012) and because nearly all counties did their maintenance in one week instead of over the course of several weeks as it had been done previously.
So, how has North Carolina’s electorate changed since the last time voter registrations cracked the seven million mark? Republican registrations have remained virtually unchanged, with a net gain of 1,673 while the state has lost 133,228 Democratic registrations (a decrease of around five percent). At the same time, North Carolina has gained 123,577 unaffiliated registrations (an increase of a little over five percent).
We should see a bit of a jump in registrations next week as most counties in the 11th congressional district report a backlog of registration that they could file due to the Republican second primary there. Heywood County reported its backlog this week, accounting for 938 of the state’s 4,437 net gain in registrations last week. By comparison, Mecklenburg and Wake, the two largest counties in the state, had a net gain of 351 and 456 registrations respectively.