Early Black Voters on the Rise, but More Needed


The rate of Black voter turnout, thus far, during early vote 2018, is good, observers note, but it has to be even better going into this last weekend of early voting to make a difference come Election Day.

According to newly released data Monday from the NC State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement on the current 18-day early voting cycle, as of Oct. 29th 9, 743 African-Americans under the age of 26 went to the polls during the first eleven days of early voting in North Carolina.

That figure is just under the 11,057 that voted over the entire 10 day early voting period in 2014, and behind the 20,286 who voted in 2016 with six days remaining (early voting was just 17 days in 2016).

Thus far in 2018, African-Americans in total have cast 81% (228, 157) of the total ballots by blacks in 2014 early voting.

The number of registered African-Americans in North Carolina has grown by 4% since 2014.

In counties where the Black voting population is considerable, early voting overall is good thus far, compared with 2014 figures. Wake, Durham, Mecklenburg, Forsyth, and Buncombe counties – the home of several colleges and universities - have seen dramatic increases in early voter turnout. Indeed, half of North Carolina’s 100 counties have better early voter turnout than in 2014.

However, many of the eastern and coastal counties hit hard by Hurricane Florence that are receiving federal assistance – 28 in all – have seen early voting tallies go down compared to 2014, state official figures show.

Alarmingly, 26 of those counties have seen fewer ballots compared to 2014 by African-Americans.

Overall statewide, 1,099,555 voters have cast ballots at early voting sites thus far in 2018, compared with the 10-day early voting period in 2014 (1,097,269) and the first 11 days of the 2016 19-day early voting period (1,546, 765).

Most of the 2018 early voter turnout is white, obviously, with 3.4% more white casting ballots now than in 2014 at this point. White voters under 26 have cast 26% more ballots than in the entire 2014 early voting period.

It is fully expected, says state officials, that at this pace prior to the end of the 18 day early voting cycle this Saturday, Nov. 3rd. the 2018 figures could surpass 2016.

New state figures also show that voter registration among all voters is up compared to previous early voting periods!

According to WUNC Public Radio, by the years 2025, North Carolina will have several “majority-minority” counties, which will include Mecklenburg, Anson, Guilford, Robeson, Scotland, Hoke, Cumberland, Duplin, Lenoir, Sampson, Durham, Greene, Wilson, Edgecombe, Nash, Tyrell, Washington, Bertie, Hertford, North Hampton, Halifax, Warren and Vance.

That means that communities of color in these counties are emerging, and the end of the 2018 election will tell the tale if they are beginning to flex their voting strength at the polls.