FROM THE NC News Service
Report: A Growing Number of Unaffiliated Voters in NC
by Stephanie Carson
RALEIGH, N.C. – Voter turnout increased in North Carolina’s recent midterm election, and several key voter sub-groups had a large part in influencing its outcome.
New data released by the advocacy and research organization Democracy North Carolina found that Democrats, older Americans and African Americans all participated in greater numbers, compared to the 2010 midterm.
The biggest share of new voters came from independents, explains Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina.
“They tend to kind of split their tickets between this and that,” he says. “It turned out that at the top of the ticket, the Republican Thom Tillis won, but all three of the Democrats running for the State Supreme Court won their seats. Those are nonpartisan races.”
In spite of higher turnout for Democrats and African Americans, who tend to favor the Democratic party, Hall says Republican men still turned out in higher numbers, and Tillis had greater appeal for independent voters and conservative Democrats.
Alleghany, Yancey and Chatham counties had the highest turnouts, reaching as high as 60 percent.
While voters ages 18 to 25 increased their participation this year by three percentage points over the 2010 midterm election, the youth vote still lags behind other voting blocks at just shy of 18 percent participation.
Bryan Perlmutter, director of the advocacy group Ignite North Carolina, says that’s why it’s imperative the state make voting more accessible to young voters.
“Young people are so important to the political process and it’s so important that they have their voices heard that the state of North Carolina needs to be making an intentional effort to make it easier for young people to vote,” he stresses.
Hall says Democracy North Carolina’s analysis finds that the new voting rules and the subsequent voter confusion reduced overall participation by 30,000 people, which could have impacted several key races.
“We want to have trained precinct officials so that people’s experience is good when they go to the polls, and if they’re slightly confused they don’t get more confused by what the precinct officials tell them,” he says.
Hall says Hoke, Robeson and Onslow counties had the lowest turnout.