Absentee voting rose steadily during the first week after absentee ballots were mailed out in North Carolina. According to Vote Tracker, 24,887 votes were returned as of September 13*.
While it is still too early to do a meaningful analysis of the returns, there are some obvious early trends that can be seen. For example, the absentee-by-mail electoral is skewing older so far; 14,876 (59.8%) of those who have voted so far are 65 or older. In 2016, only 39.6% of absentee-by-mail voters were 65 or older.
That difference will likely continue because military voters (and perhaps college students) will be a much smaller proportion of all those who vote absentee by mail this year than they were in 2016 due to the increase in absentee voting by those in the general population.
One thing I will be doing here each week that is not included in Vote Tracker is noting the absentee ballot accepted proportion, which I will measure by comparing the number of absentee ballots accepted with the number of absentee ballots requested by party at that time. For example, 14,186 absentee ballots from Democrats have been accepted as of September 13 out of 400,049 requested as of September 13, an acceptance rate of 3.5%. Naturally, the accepted proportion will increase as we get closer to election day. Since there is a wide variation by party on absentee ballot requests this year, reporting raw numbers of accepted absentee ballots is not especially useful.
While is it still very early, as seen in figure 3, Democrats have a reason to be pleased so far; not only have Democrats requested 267,045 more ballots than have Republicans as of September 13 (not a useful number), a higher portion of the ballots requested by Democrats have been returned and accepted (a useful number).
Of course, it is still very early in the process and I will observe the proportion accepted rate every week to see how much it changes each week as more absentee-by-mail votes come in.