Politics & Government

North Carolina early voting: 165,000 ballots cast in first four days

Donovan Cruz (left) and Jeanne Marshall vote at the Central Piedmont Community College Facilities Services building in Charlotte Thursday, March 3, 2016, the first day of early voting in North Carolina. It is the first NC election where a photo ID is required to vote.
Donovan Cruz (left) and Jeanne Marshall vote at the Central Piedmont Community College Facilities Services building in Charlotte Thursday, March 3, 2016, the first day of early voting in North Carolina. It is the first NC election where a photo ID is required to vote. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

After four days of early voting, more than 165,000 North Carolinians have cast a ballot in the state’s first of two primaries.

In Wake County alone, early voters cast 14,536 ballots from Thursday through Sunday. However, the county and state numbers can’t be compared directly. The state counts early voting ballots and absentee ballots, while Wake County only counts the early voting ballots.

To see the county numbers, which are updated nightly, go to nando.com/earlytotal.

The busiest place in Wake County to vote early has been Lake Lynn Community Center in Raleigh, followed by Herbert C. Young Community Center in Cary. The least busy of Wake’s nine locations have been Garner’s Avery Street Recreation Center Annex and Wendell Community Center.

People can vote at any designated early-voting location in their county during early voting, but voters should go to their precinct on election day itself. To find your county’s available early voting sites, visit nando.com/early. Early voting continues through March 12.

This is the first election in which the new voter ID laws are in effect, although those without voter ID can still vote. At the polls Monday and Tuesday, voters without accepted ID may request an absentee ballot. But starting Wednesday, voters without an ID will have to cast a provisional ballot that will be counted only under certain circumstances.

For more information on voter ID rules, visit nando.com/voterid.

This month’s primary will decide who will face off in races for U.S. Senate, governor, attorney general and more. There’s also a $2 billion bond referendum for projects across the state. And voters will get a say in how their party awards delegates at the national conventions this summer, where presidential candidates will be chosen.

Because of the funky math of presidential primaries and national conventions, North Carolina is slightly more influential in the Republican presidential primary than in the Democratic primary, with about 2.9 percent (72 of 2,472) of the Republican delegates and 2.5 percent (121 of 4,765) of the Democratic delegates.

Across the state, nearly half of the 165,951 people who voted Thursday through Sunday were Democrats.

Republicans cast 30.7 percent of the ballots, and unaffiliated voters another 22.8 percent. Libertarians accounted for 0.14 percent of the ballots cast, while Democrats cast 46.3 percent.

That’s about in line with voter registration overall. North Carolina is 40.6 percent Democrat, 30.5 percent Republican, 28.5 percent unaffiliated and 0.4 percent Libertarian.

So far, 2.6 percent of North Carolinians have voted. Wake County is slightly lower, at 2.2 percent.

Since 1988, voter turnout in primaries in presidential election years has ranged from 16 percent to 37 percent. Turnout in the general election in those same years has ranged from 59 percent to 70 percent.

Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran

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