Report ranks best and worst NC counties for voting access

Posted by Megan Cassella on January 17, 2014 

Hertford, Pender and Scotland counties have the worst voting access in North Carolina, according to a report released by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Seventy-nine counties in the state were analyzed based on rates of overall voter turnout, voter registration, voter list maintenance, provisional ballots accepted and rejected, and absentee ballots rejected.

The report, which analyzed counties in every swing state from the last election, concluded that ease of exercising the right to vote is heavily dependent on where one lives. Data was compared only within each state with counties measured against state averages — not nationally.

While all factors were weighted equally, the study noted that Hertford County rejected the highest number of absentee ballots in the state, while Pender rejected the sixth-highest. All three counties were among the worst performing in terms of the rate at which registered voters were purged from the list.

Researchers analyzed data collected in the 2012 election, but numbers could change significantly in this year’s election after Gov. Pat McCrory’s new voting law goes into effect, said Joshua Field, one of the authors of the report from the left-leaning organization.

The law – which shortens early voting, ends same-day registration and adds a voter ID requirement, among other things – targets many of the same factors analyzed in the study, Field said.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see how that affects (the data),” Field said. “If you think about anything that makes it harder to register, reduces the number of days that someone could go in and vote, and adds more restrictions for what people need to vote, we’ll guess that you’re going to see some dramatic changes.”

The report, which analyzed counties in every swing state from the last election, concluded that ease of exercising the right to vote is heavily dependent on where one lives. Data was compared only within each state with counties measured against state averages — not nationally.

Mecklenburg, Cherokee and Union counties were the three best-performing counties, according to the same report.

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