Updated 10/18/2010 05:51 PM
Officials say early voting numbers higher than expected
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RALEIGH – More than 70,000 voters have cast one-stop ballots and if mail-ins are included that number jumps to a total of more than 85,000 absentee ballots so far during early voting.
North Carolina is on pace to set record number for early voting for a non-presidential election. Thousand of voters just like Rachel Campbell and her mother, Theresa headed to the polls.
“This is my first time voting,” Campbell said.
The two Wake County resident proudly sported their “I voted” stickers.
“I just wanted her to be aware of how important it was to do her civic duty,” her mother, said.
They're not alone.
There is a significantly higher number of people who have already voted this year than in 2006. That was another non-presidential election year when just over 35,000 voted during the same time period. This year has already surpassed the first few days of 2004, which was a presidential election year.
“I think there's a lot of energy particularly on the Republican side,” David MeLennan, a political analyst, said.
While the numbers show that more Democrats have actually voted, a larger percentage of Republicans have cast ballots.
“A lot of this is also stemming from mail absentee voting, which Republicans traditionally utilize more than their Democratic counterparts,” Gary Bartlett, the North Carolina Board of Elections executive director, said.
More than 1,400 have voted in Wake County. The Triad reflects similar numbers with more than 1,200 in Guilford and Forsyth County. Mecklenburg County looks like they have a low turnout with just more than 600, but that's due to the way they report numbers. On the coast, Brunswick County has the highest turnout with more than 3,000. There voters will find highly contested races and more voting centers.
A report from Democracy North Carolina shows white Republican men are casting the most ballots, which is no surprise to political analysts.
“The question from a Democratic perspective is how big is that wave? I mean the larger the wave of early voters that puts a lot of pressure on Democratic voters,” McLennan said.
No matter who you are or who you vote for, everyone is encouraged to exercise their right.
“You can't complain if you're not a part of the process,” Campbell said.
Early voting continues through Saturday, October 30. Election Day is Tuesday, November 2.