The deadline to register to vote in North Carolina for the 2020 general election is October 9.
According to state data, more than 7.2 million people are registered to vote in North Carolina, which is up compared to the 6.9 million people who were registered to vote by Election Day in November 2016.
Dr. Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College, said North Carolina’s population growth is one of the main factors contributing to the rise in numbers.
"It is driven by population,” Bitzer said, “but it's also probably voter interest and just citizen interest in a highly visible, highly fought campaign cycle."
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Voter data shows 775,976 people are currently registered to vote in Mecklenburg County, which is an increase from 710,643 on Election Day in November 2016.
If citizens haven’t registered to vote yet, the North Carolina State Board of Elections website lists the steps.
- Filling out the North Carolina Voter Registration Application (Spanish version) and submitting by mail
- Using N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) services:
- Selecting the option to register to vote while applying for a vehicle license or ID
- Existing NCDMV customers may submit their voter registration application online through the DMV
Michael Dickerson, director of elections for Mecklenburg County, said people can hand deliver their voter registration applications to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections office by 5 p.m. on November 3, or it must be postmarked by November 3.
“If you can do a little bit of the homework first and have your registration current and ready to go, then that means it’s a smooth process when you go to see somebody at early voting or on Election Day,” Dickerson said.
If a person misses the voter registration deadline, there is one more way to vote in the election through same-day registration during the early voting period. Same-day registrants must go to an early voting site, attest to their eligibility, and provide proof of where they live by providing a North Carolina driver’s license; other photo identification issued by a government agency; a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document showing the voter’s name and address; or a current college/university photo identification card paired with proof of campus habitation.
North Carolina elections officials are already seeing high numbers of absentee ballot returns prior to early voting starting.
State data shows 420,695 absentee ballots across the state have been returned so far, with 53,564 of those returned in Mecklenburg County.
"Normally in a presidential year I'll do 25,000, so we've already doubled that,” Dickerson said. “And we're still three weeks out, three and a half weeks out from the election."
The North Carolina State Board of Elections reports there have been 1,251,501 absentee ballot requests so far for the November 2020 general election, which is up from 152,030 requested through the same time period for the 2016 general election.
“North Carolina has not seen anything like this in its modern voting history,” said Bitzer. “So, I think, you know, we are already double the number of return and accepted absentee ballots in all of 2016, and that number’s only going to continue to grow.”
Thursday, the Concerned Clergy of Charlotte, the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NAACP Charlotte, the Urban League of Central Carolina, and My Brother’s Keeper Charlotte hosted a “Respect My Vote Mail-In Ballot Caravan” event.”
A line of cars drove from Little Rock A.M.E Zion Church in Uptown straight to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections to hand deliver their absentee ballots.
“This is the most important election of our lifetime,” said Dwayne Walker, pastor at Little Rock A.M.E Zion Church. “So, we want to make sure that folks know that their vote will make it safely to the Board of Election, and that every vote will count.”
The group held a rally before the caravan, encouraging people to exercise their right to vote.
“Their vote is their voice,” Walker said.