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New Hanover County early voting numbers down slightly from last municipal election

Note: In 2017, there were 14 days of early voting. Starting in 2019, there have been 15 early voting days.
Rachel Keith, WHQR
/
NHCBOE
Note: In 2017, there were 14 days of early voting. Starting in 2019, there have been 15 early voting days. Percentages are rounded.

Early voting in New Hanover County concluded on Saturday, and Election Day is Tuesday, November 7. WHQR has the analysis of who turned out to cast ballots before Tuesday.

Early voter turnout was down by one percentage point compared to 2021’s municipal elections. About 5% of the registered voter population turned out early versus about 6% last time.

In terms of party affiliation, Democrats turned out at about the same rate they did in 2021 at 7%, but Republican early voting was down about 2 points. Unaffiliated numbers were down about 1 point.

Percentages are rounded.
WHQR, Rachel Keith
/
NHCBOE
Percentages are rounded.

The early voting site with the most voters was the Northeast Library.

New Hanover County Elections Director Rae Hunter-Havens said that’s probably due to “the fact that they had additional days of voting. We did see a fair amount of turnout, though, at the Senior Resource Center, given that they had a more abbreviated schedule, as well as for Carolina Beach.”

For the Carolina Beach Town Hall early site, primarily, those voters resided on the island, according to Hunter-Havens.

Hunter-Havens said there are a myriad of reasons why about 1,500 fewer people voted compared to 2021, but an uncontested City of Wilmington mayoral could be one.

This election cycle voters have to show photo ID, but Hunter-Havens said most people are knowledgeable about this change.

“One thing that we have seen, at least through early voting, is we're not seeing a great number of photo ID exception forms being submitted, or voters having to vote provisionally because they don't have a form of acceptable photo ID. The primary reason for voters casting a provisional ballot, is that they think they're eligible to vote, but they don't appear to live in the municipalities,” Hunter-Havens said.

Voters can use the NC voter lookup tool to see whether they’re eligible to cast a ballot in this year’s election.

Reminders for Tuesday, November 7, Election Day

You must have a photo ID for Tuesday’s Election (there are exceptions, though — more on that below).

If you forget your ID, you can go home and return with it before you vote.

If you're cutting it close on time before the polls close, Hunter-Havens has advice, “They certainly can as long as they're not too close to the closing time, 7:30 p.m., at the polls, but they can also vote provisionally and then bring that photo ID to the office by 5 p.m. on November 16, the day before canvass, or they could use a photo ID exception for that.”

If voters have what’s called a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID, then they can cast a provisional ballot and fill out a photo exception form.

Most of these ballots will be counted during the pre-canvass meeting.

Another reminder Hunter-Havens wants to get across is that those voters whose polling place is a New Hanover County school, to be mindful of the students and their families coming and leaving that day.

“That may cause delays, and so we really encourage them to vote at other times throughout the day," Hunter-Havens. "Obviously, on Election Day, all of our polling places are going to be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.”

And she encourages voters to have a plan so that they can get in line before or by 7:30 p.m.

“The last thing we want to hear is a voter gets to the polls at 7:35 p.m. on Election night, because at that point, they're going have to be informed, ‘You're presenting to vote after 7:30.’ Obviously if the voter insists, they can vote provisionally, but anyone who is in line by 7:30 p.m., will be permitted to vote," she said.

Another obstacle she hopes to avoid is voters assuming they do live within a municipality.

“We are opening 27 of our 41 polling places, so of approximately 180,000 registered voters in the county, only about 98,000 are eligible to vote. So again, for those who aren't certain, we just encourage you to do a little research [on the state's voter look-up tool] before you present to vote,” she said.

And lastly, another issue that comes up during Election Day is that a voter “failed to update their address, and their address them places them in a new precinct. Oftentimes, they may not be able to travel to that precinct, so we will see some provisional voters simply because they're not in the right polling place,” Hunter-Havens said.

“But if they're eligible to vote that ballot, then we would certainly recommend to the five-member county board that they approve [it]. It's a fairly common pattern,” she said.

Resources

Upcoming Important Dates

  • Monday, November 14 — Mailed Absentee Ballots Due, must be postmarked by Election Day by 5 p.m.
  • Friday, November 17 — County Canvass (results are official) at 11:00 a.m.
Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR