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Henderson County posts largest gain in early voters

Angie Newsome/Carolina Public Press

Statewide turnout for early voting, which ended Nov. 3, was 41.3 percent, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections.

Of the total 2,738,947 voters who cast early ballots in the state, 47.7 percent were Democrats, 31.4 percent were Republicans, 20.7 percent were unaffiliated and .22 percent were Libertarians, according to the state board.

The total for absentee votes cast statewide in 2008 was 2,638,915 (42 percent of registered voters), which was a higher number than for those who voted on Election Day, according to Johnnie McLean, deputy director for the N.C. State Board of Elections.

Number of early voters throughout 18 Western North Carolina counties in 2012. Peggy Manning/Carolina Public Press

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Many counties in Western North Carolina reported lower numbers of early voters, somewhat in contradiction of earlier predictions by officials that records would be set throughout the region. For example:

  • Buncombe County: 1,066 fewer
  • Cherokee County: 48 fewer
  • Graham County: 24 fewer
  • Haywood County: 399 fewer
  • Jackson County: 989 fewer
  • Macon County: 394 fewer
  • Madison County: 195 fewer
  • McDowell County: 922 fewer
  • Polk County: 563 fewer
  • Rutherford County: 959 fewer
  • Swain County: 21 fewer
  • Watauga County: 2,455 fewer

According to the most-recent tally recorded by the state board this weekend after early voting ended, there were 6,302 fewer early voters in the 18 western counties this year than in 2008.

But several WNC counties did post gains in early voting numbers.

The Western North Carolina counties that shared the statewide growth in early voting when compared to 2008 were:

  • Avery County: 79 more
  • Clay County: 58 more
  • Henderson County: 1,037 more
  • Mitchell County: 20 more
  • Transylvania County: 164 more
  • Yancey County: 375 more

State statistics may reflect a different number than other sources, including county boards of election. According to state board staff, the state statistics are based on returned and accepted ballots, whereas county boards may count the number of absentee ballots requested.

Some absentee ballots that are returned by mail or by members of the military may be received after the deadline if they have a postmark before that deadline.

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All absentee ballots, including those cast in person and those returned by mail, will be included in the official canvas after Election Day and the final tally will then be posted by the State Board of Elections.

Correction: An early version of this article mischaracterized the percentages of early voters by party affiliation. The figures have been corrected, with the latest data from the N.C. Board of Elections.


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Peggy Manning

Peggy Manning is a contributing reporter for Carolina Public Press. Contact her at pntmoody@bellsouth.net.

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