The Implications of Shortening Early Voting Periods: A Case Study from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
MetadataShow full item record
Early voting is a widely available convenience voting option, yet research into exactly who casts a ballot early has produced mixed results. Researchers have simultaneously shown that early voters are wealthier and whiter than average, or older and more habitual voters, or more heavily minority than average. Most research has used self-reported survey data both for turnout and method of voting. The author utilizes state-compiled data from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina combining registered voters’ demographic and method of voting information for all elections over a ten-year time horizon. The results show that self-identified minority racial status is associated with between a 6.9 and 16.9 percentage point increase in the likelihood that a voter will choose to vote early over a non-minority voter during the last four federal elections beginning in 2008. These findings will inform ongoing litigation in North Carolina and across the country about the disparate impact of reductions in the availability of early voting as well as the need for election administrators to more efficiently deploy resources in preparation for early voting.