With less than a week left to go in early voting, almost 17% of the county’s 270,000 voters have already cast their ballots in contests ranging from U.S. Senate to soil and water conservation board, according to the state and local elections boards.
The pace of voting was faster than the one set at this point during the most recent previous midterm election in 2018, although an apples- to-apples comparison is hard because the days for early voting have differed between the two election cycles.
Early voting ends at 3 p.m. Saturday. The general election is Nov. 8.
By the end of the day on Monday, 44,691 Forsyth County voters had cast their ballots. Monday was the 10th day of early voting here. In 2018, 40,989 county voters had cast their ballots by the end of the 10th day, and that was about 16% of the county’s registered voters at that time.
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The first 10 days of early voting in 2018 included only one weekend day, but this year included a Sunday, when hours were limited and only some 1,500 people voted (compared to 4,000 to 5,000 on a typical weekday).
Through the first nine days of early voting ending Sunday, both Democrats and Republicans had turned out around 17% of their registered voters, according to the most recent dataset available Monday night on the state elections site. The percentages translate into more Democrats than Republicans showing up a the polls, since Democrats hold a 38% to 27% registration advantage over the GOP.
In raw numbers, some 17,500 Democrats had voted through Sunday, compared to some 12,300 Republicans.
On the other hand, the GOP was running ahead of its 2018 pace in early voting, since the number of Republican early voters by Sunday had reached 56% of the party’s 2018 final early voting number. By contrast, the number of Democrats voting early reached around 50% of the party’s 2018 early voting total as of the end of the day Sunday.
The wild card for both parties could be unaffiliated voters: They’re a much bigger portion of the electorate than they were in 2018, but their turnout has lagged so far.
Unaffiliated voters make up some 34% of the electorate here, up 18% since 2018, when they stood at a little less than 30% of the total. But only 11% of unaffiliated voters had cast their ballots through Sunday, and they made up only 25% of the number of early voters.
If past is prologue, look for early voting numbers to rise toward the end of the week: In 2018, the vote totals reached their highest daily numbers during the last week of early voting, with the very highest daily number, some 7,400 people, casting their ballots on the Friday before the general election.
In contrast to 2022, the 2018 midterms had no high-profile U.S. Senate contest to grab statewide attention. Nor was there a local contest with the kind of firepower voters have seen in the race for district attorney.