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As Early Voting Ended On Halloween, A Record Total Of Ballots Have Been Cast In NC

Lakewood Elementary's Community Schools Coordinator Anna Grant greets families and offers voting information at the school's drive thru Fall Fest event on Oct. 31, 2020.
Liz Schlemmer

Early voting has concluded – and more than 4.5 million people have already cast ballots in North Carolina.

A record number of early-voters have already gone to the polls in the state. More than 3.6 million people – roughly half of all registered voters in the state – turned out to vote during the 17-day early voting period that ended Saturday. That represents a 22% increase compared to the early vote in 2016.

Additionally, more than 937,000 mail-in ballots have been returned. That means, heading into Election Day, nearly 62% of all registered voters in North Carolina have submitted ballots.

That means the state is approaching record turnout.

About half-a-million people would need to vote on Election Day for the state to establish a new all-time high. It remains unclear if Tuesday will see an influx of voters, or if it will be relatively quiet.

In urban Wake and Durham counties, more than two thirds of registered voters have already cast ballots. Saturday was not only the last day to vote early in North Carolina, but it was also Halloween. One Durham school celebrated both events.

Parents and students drove, biked or walked to Lakewood Elementary for a drive-thru fall festival Saturday. Kids got candy from their principal dressed in a hamburger costume and waved to teachers they hadn't seen in months.

Lakewood Elementary Principal James Hopkins offers candy to student Gabriel Burch on Oct. 31, 2020.
Credit Liz Schlemmer / WUNC
Lakewood Elementary Principal James Hopkins offers candy to student Gabriel Burch on Oct. 31, 2020.

And, as “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang played in the background, parents received a reminder to vote.

Andrea Resto, the school's dean of students, said the school wanted to give students a safe Halloween experience since Durham discouraged trick-or-treating... and make sure their parents remember to vote.

“And if you didn't get it done, we're trying to push you to go get it done,” Resto said.

Democrats have slightly outpaced Republicans to this point, while unaffiliated voters comprise about 30% of those who have voted already. Of the state’s 100 counties, Chatham has seen the highest turnout, with more than 75%.

Polls will be open until 7:30 p.m. across the state Tuesday. If you’re not registered to vote, you are unable to vote on Election Day.

Jeff Tiberii is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Jeff joined WUNC in 2011. During his 20 years in public radio, he was Morning Edition Host at WFDD and WUNC’s Greensboro Bureau Chief and later, the Capitol Bureau Chief. Jeff has covered state and federal politics, produced the radio documentary “Right Turn,” launched a podcast, and was named North Carolina Radio Reporter of the Year four times.
Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
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