As of the end of Oct. 17, over 41,000 North Carolinians have cast their vote through absentee ballots.
According to state data, the number of absentee voters for the 2022 midterm election has significantly increased compared to the number from the 2018 midterm election.
“I would describe (absentee voters) as probably the most partisan of voters because they've known for a very long time who they're going to be voting for,” Michael Bitzer, chairperson of the Catawba College Politics Department, said.
According to data from the North Carolina State Board of Education, more than half of the requests for absentee ballots are from women.
Registered Democrats made over 47 percent of absentee ballot requests through Oct. 17, while registered Republicans made less than a sixth of them.
Bitzer said some registered Democrats, specifically women, are voting in the midterm elections due to the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade. He also noted that inflation is another concern pushing some people to cast their ballot.
Bitzer and Gerry Cohen, an adjunct instructor at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy, both said it’s too early to draw any conclusion from absentee ballot results and people should not read too far into the data.
“There seems to be more interest among Democrats in the election than Republicans at this point,” Cohen said. “But that's just looking at one of the three modes of the way to vote.”
Early voting, which will last from Oct. 20 until Nov. 5, and in-person voting on Election Day, Nov. 8, are two other ways to vote.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot in North Carolina is Nov. 1. When a voter sends a request, the North Carolina State Board of Elections will review it before mailing a ballot, which must be returned by 5 p.m. on Nov. 8.
Through Oct. 17, nearly 190,000 absentee ballot requests have been submitted to the NCSBE, compared to over 83,000 requests at this point in the 2018 midterm election cycle. Not all of those have been returned.
Cohen said people should send their requests by Oct. 26 instead of waiting until Nov. 1 if they want to vote remotely.
“If you wait till Nov. 1 to apply and have to get the ballot back by Nov. 8, that doesn't really, in my opinion, leave enough time, given where the postal service is now,” he said.
Baylee Materia, a UNC sophomore from Florida, said she has already cast her absentee ballot.
Materia noted that she wanted to vote in her home state because she is motivated by social issues specific to it. Specifically, she is concerned about future legislature like the 'Don’t Say Gay' Bill that was passed earlier this year.
“I'm choosing to vote for the midterm because I care about who is representing me in the government and I want to have a say in the laws that are in the society that I reside in,” she said.
Natasha Young, a leadership development program coordinator at Carolina Union, encouraged students to vote via whatever method makes the most sense for them.
She said in an email that UNC's Promote Democracy initiative promotes an increased voter turnout.
She added that every eligible voter should have the opportunity to cast their ballot and vote for elected officials — as democracy intends.
“Don’t let anyone tell you your vote doesn’t matter – it does,” she said in an email.
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