Monday Election Data Dump: Republican Registration Advantage Holds Through Deadline | Beaufort County Now | Here is data from the fourth week since that start of voting in North Carolina.

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Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Civitas Institute. The author of this post is Andy Jackson.

    Here is data from the fourth week since that start of voting in North Carolina.

    Absentee requests continue to climb

    The total number of requests as of the morning of Monday, October 12 stands at 1,300,919 (see figure 1 for trendline) according to data from the NC State Board of Elections (SBE). That includes 612,246 Democrats, 247,400 Republicans, and 434,475 unaffiliated.

    When looking at figure 1, it is important to remember that the current week (currently week 41) tends to get a little over 20,000 requests added to it during the next week as counties catch up with old data entry. For example, there are 64,456 ballot requests currently listed for week 41 (the 41st week since counties started accepting absentee ballot requests for this election). I expect the total number of requests for week 41 to be around 90,000 when files are updated this time next week.

    With just over to weeks until the October 27 to request an absentee ballot, it is starting to look like less than 1.6 million North Carolina voters will request absentee ballots.

Figure 1: Absentee ballot requests by week. | NC State Board of Elections

    The absentee ballot return rate starts to tick up again

    As seen at the Civitas Institute's Vote Tracker, 478,156 absentee ballots have been accepted as of this morning. That represents about 9.6% of the roughly five million votes expected in the 2020 election in North Carolina. The 110,988 ballots added this week represents a slight increase from the 108,594 ballots added last week (see figure 2 for a visual representation).

    Note: as with absentee ballot requests, there is some upward adjustment each week to the previous week's totals, in this case, an increase from 100,985 to 108,594.

Figure 2: Screenshot from Vote Tracker showing the number of ballots accepted per day. | Civitas’ Vote Tracker

    As can be seen in figure 3, Democrats continue to maintain a roughly six percentage point absentee ballot return rate advantage over Republicans and unaffiliated voters. As of the morning of October 12, 40.0% of the absentee ballots requested by Democrats have been returned and accepted compared to 34.1% for Republicans and 33.9% for unaffiliated voters.

Figure 3: Proportion of requested ballots returned and accepted, by party. | NC State Board of Elections

    Democrats continue to lag behind Republicans in voter registration

    As we have seen at the Civitas Voter Registration Changes webpage, Republicans continue to outgain Democrats in net registration changes, with a 14,356-11,165 advantage last week with 15,412 net additional unaffiliated registrations There has been a net increase of 51,637 Republicans, 49,809 unaffiliated voters, and 36,381 Democrats (see figure 4) since September 5, the day after absentee ballots were first mailed out.

Figure 4: Weekly voter registration changes in North Carolina from September 5. | Civitas’ Voter Registration Changes page

    The deadline for voter registration for the 2020 election was October 9. However, North Carolina has same-day registration for those who wish to vote early in-person. The early voting period is traditionally seen as more friendly towards Democrats and there was a net gain of 1,912 more Democratic than Republican registrations during the last three-and-a-half weeks before election day in 2016, so the Democrats may be able to eat into the Republican registration advantage during the early voting period.

    Preview: We should see a large uptick in absentee-by-mail votes next week

Figure 5: Screenshot of Vote Tracker showing absentee-by-mail returns in the 2016 election. | Civitas’ Vote Tracker

    During the 2016 election, there was a steady increase in absentee ballot submissions during the last eight weeks before election day, with more pronounced growth during the last three-and-a-half weeks (see figure 5). Contrast that with figure 2 above, which shows the rate of absentee ballot returns more or less steady over the past four weeks.

    If we do not start seeing an increase in absentee ballot returns, we could end up with a much lower absentee ballot returned-and-accepted rate than the roughly 85% we saw in 2016.

    ANECDOTE UPDATE: Looking at the September 3 to 10 period on the Voter Registration Changes page, I noticed that Watauga County had a net change of 142 voter registrations, which is unusual this close to an election. Looking closer, I notice that there was a net decline in registrations of 500 white and 20 black registrations, and a net gain of "other" race. Curious about that level of churn, I called the Watauga County Board of Elections. They told me that there are still voter registration drives happening on the Appalachian State University campus but that many students are studying online and have changed their registration to their home counties.

    I presume that the people running the voter registration drive at ASU were not encouraging (or perhaps even discouraging) students from filling in the race section of the voter registration form. Perhaps they are not aware that completing the race section of your voter registration can help with enforcing provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
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