For Immediate Release:
After three days, one-stop early voting is off to a record-shattering pace for midterm elections and the largest group casting ballots are white Republican men, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan group Democracy North Carolina. (Summary totals at end.)
Two years ago, black Democratic women led all groups in the 17-day early voting period and propelled Barack Obama to a surprise victory in the Tar Heel state. The remarkable shift to GOP men echoes polling data about the Republican tide this year, although after three days of voting, the total number of one-stop ballots cast by all Democrats still exceeds those of Republicans.
“Early voting doesn’t favor one party or another, but reveals who’s most organized and enthusiastic about making their voices heard,” said Bob Hall, director of Democracy North Carolina, which has tracked the evolution of early voting. “Combined with the opportunity for same-day registration, our state’s early voting process is essentially a tool of empowerment and convenience.”
After three days, a total of 72,173 voters have cast one-stop ballots. That’s more than twice the 35,728 cast at the same point in the previous midterm election of 2006 and even more than the 70,645 in the 2004 presidential election. In 2008, a surprising 266,649 voters crowded one-stop centers in the first three days.
So far this year, registered Democrats are edging out Republicans by 31,910 to 27,623. By contrast, after three days in 2008, Democrats were swamping Republicans by nearly a 3-to-1 ratio – at that point, 163,321 votes to 58,748.
The county with the most early votes so far in 2010 is not Wake or Mecklenburg but coastal Brunswick County, where eight voting centers and hotly contested local, state and Congressional contests reinforce a tradition of early turnout. Setting the pattern for the state, white Republican men led the county followed by white Republican women.
Wilson County, where tea party supporters are backing a white independent candidate against the black Democratic candidate for sheriff, is another center of early robust turnout; it ranked 6th among the 100 counties after three day of early voting. African-American Democratic women lead among the demographic groups in Wilson.
Other counties among the top ten are New Hanover, Alamance, Wayne, Henderson, Chatham, Johnston, Gaston and Caldwell. For a county-by-county chart of turnout for October 14 through October 16, go to http://www.democracy-nc.org/downloads/EarlyVoting2010First3DaysCountySumm.xls
Early voting continues through Saturday, October 30 at 1 pm. Counties have different schedules, including multiple locations and evening hours in some cases. Seven counties offer the convenience of Sunday afternoon voting which turned out to be the most intensive hours of early voting in 2008.
Total Votes at One-Stop Early Voting Centers
Election Year First Three Day Total Period
2008 266,649 2.4 million
2006 35,728 372,020
2004 70,645 707,628
2002 13,110 170,543
Data from files at the State Board of Elections. The counts for 2002-2008 are for ballots accepted, not just those cast.