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Voter turnout is up, so how has the state's electorate changed since 2016?

Precinct Chief Judge James Weathers volunteers at the Chapel of the Cross church at 304 E. Franklin St. on Oct. 23, 2018 helping voters register. The Chapel of the Cross severs as an early voter location close to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's campus.

Based on unofficial results, more people voted early in North Carolina this year than in 2014, but that wave didn't crash on all shores. 

As of Oct. 30, a total of 1,235,139 early votes were cast across North Carolina, 27,712 of which were from Orange County.

Forty-three percent of early votes in North Carolina had been cast by registered Democrats, 30 percent by registered Republicans and 27 percent by unaffiliated voters. 

In comparison to the 2014 election, which featured a close race for a U.S. Senate seat, the elections driving turnout in North Carolina this year are for the U.S. House of Representatives, the N.C. General Assembly, the N.C. Supreme Court and referenda for six constitutional amendments. 

For some voters, the proposed amendments were viewed as having partisan motivations. 

“For me, this year, a lot of the amendment stuff is very important,” said Arvind Sivashanmugam, a UNC student. “The way it’s on the ballot, it’s very one-sided. I think about what I value instead of what a party says.” 

There has also been a shift in the type of people who are voting. 

“Obviously, there’s a wave of college-age kids coming out and voting,” said 26-year-old Henry Pehr from Cary. “I think a lot of the youth in this country have been fed up with the way the government is acting.”

Approximately 53.5 percent of early voters identified themselves female, compared with 44.6 percent who identified themselves as male. And while 72.8 percent of early voters identified as white, 20.8 percent identified as Black and 6.4 percent as “other.” 

The total number of registered voters in North Carolina increased to over seven million, an increase of 2.5 percent over the 2016 registration numbers.

Of all racial demographics, Hispanic people are the most under-represented in voter registration. Only 20 percent of Hispanic residents were registered voters today in North Carolina. Of the total population, 69 percent were registered. This under-representation comes despite the number of registered Hispanic voters increasing by 18 percent across the state.  

Age demographics are not typically released, but many Orange County voters highlighted the prevalence of the youth vote.

"A lot of people, especially Democrats, call this election damage control, repairing what’s gone asunder with the current administration," said Gray Rogers, age 21, from Concord. “I’m hopeful that there’s going to be a wave turnout among younger voters.”

People have noticed young people gravitating toward both parties.

“I think it’s good to have some youth out here," said Cody Johnson, age 19. "In NC, a lot of times, the Republican Party is seen as a lot of old people.”

Third party voters also showed great strides in total registration, increasing total registered voters by 20.08 percent. This may be due to the addition of the Green Party and Constitution Party as officially recognized parties in North Carolina. 

But increases in early votes were not predictive of ballots cast on Election Day.

While Anita Earls, Democratic candidate and state Supreme Court justice-elect, received 54 percent of the early vote, she received only 43 percent of the Election Day vote. Similar trends of Democrat’s over performing in the early vote were experienced across the other statewide elections. 

All results are unofficial as of midnight on Tuesday.


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Aidan Bennett contributed reporting.