“Around 60,000 people early voted in Orange County alone,” Tracy Reams, director of the Orange County Board of Elections, said. “Overall, the turnout in the state has been tremendous.”
The total number of early ballots has surpassed 2012 numbers by 12.2 percent. The increase has been driven largely by high turnout among unaffiliated voters, who saw a 41.2 percent growth in their early turnout over 2012.
“The early voting numbers we’ve seen this year are historic,” Ferrel Guillory, a professor at UNC, said. “And a big part of that was the landmark court decision in July that undid a lot of the damage done by the legislature in restricting the Voting Rights Act and enabling voter ID laws.”
That decision, made by U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, overturned photo ID laws, expanded early voting and reinstated same-day registration. The decision has been praised as lifting unfair burdens on voters, said Bryan Warner, spokesperson for Common Cause N.C.