Will Catawba County see a record turnout in this year’s elections?
The final answer will not be known until well into November, but the data available so far suggests the strong possibility of a record-breaking voter turnout.
As of Monday, nearly 51,200 people had voted either in person or absentee, according to data from the Catawba County Board of Elections.
That’s 47 percent of the county’s more than 108,000 registered voters.
Registration numbers may be fluid during early voting because of same-day registration.
Since 2008, the turnout percentage was between 67 and 69.5 percent in presidential election years.
To maintain a turnout in that range this year, the county would need to record between roughly 21,500 and 24,000 new absentee or in-person votes for the remainder of the voting period.
That period includes the final five days of early voting and Election Day. The final total will also include any ballots postmarked by Election Day that are received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12.
In the past three presidential elections, the combined early in-person and absentee vote accounted for between 60 and 70 percent of the total vote.
If that pattern holds this year, the overall turnout would be between 73,000 and 85,000 votes at a minimum based just on the votes cast or received as of Monday.
It’s also not clear whether concerns over the pandemic have led to a shift in voting from Election Day to early and absentee voting.
Several voters who were out at the Highland Recreation Center early voting site Tuesday said the pandemic did not affect their decision to vote early.
Laurel Friday was one of those who said she usually votes early and that the pandemic was not a factor in when she voted.
”I wanted to vote early because by Election Day it’s really going to be long lines,” Friday said.
The turnout in Catawba County, so far, mirrors the turnout in the state as a whole.
A little more than 3.4 million people — 47 percent of all currently registered voters — had voted, according to data posted on the N.C. State Board of Elections website Tuesday morning.
Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.
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