RALEIGH, N.C. — With a strong turnout from mail-in and early voters, North Carolina Friday eclipsed more than one million votes cast in the 2020 general election.
With more than two weeks until Election Day, more than 14% of registered voters have already cast ballots.
“We’re glad to see so many North Carolina voters performing their civic duty and letting their voice be heard by voting,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “We look forward to more North Carolinians casting their ballot and staying safe while doing so.”
Mecklenburg County's biggest turnout of voters
Southwest Middle School in Steele Creek
For the second day in a row, Southwest Middle School in Steele Creek had the highest voter turnout with 1,371 voters casting their ballots on Friday.
That's 11 voters more than the polling site saw on Thursday.
"The atmosphere is driving us to the polls," said Mecklenburg County Commissioner Vilma Leake, who represents district two, which is where Southwest Middle School is located.
She was beaming when she found out her constituents are heading to the polls in historic numbers.
"I am! I'm excited. And I'm joyful," she said smiling ear to ear. "We are the most powerful district in Mecklenburg County."
A total of 2,731 people have voted so far at Southwest Middle School in the first two days.
Day two was another record breaker as well. In Mecklenburg County, 33,775 people voted on the second day of in-person early voting. That's more than double the amount of voters who showed up to the polls on day two of early voting in 2016 when 13,030 votes were cast.
Here are the top 5 voting sites with the highest turnout for the first two days combined:
1) Southwest Middle School: 2,731 votes
2) UNC Charlotte Belk Gym: 2,638 votes
3) Cornelius Town Hall: 2,598 votes
4) Carmel Commons Shopping Center: 2,585 votes
5) North Mecklenburg High School: 2,464 votes
Larger venues are also seeing high voter turnout with the following stats over the first two days of in-person voting:
1) Bojangles Entertainment Complex: 2,225 votes
2) Spectrum Center: 2,158 votes
3) Bank of America: 2,108 votes
Why so many voters are showing up to vote early in North Carolina
Voters eager to cast their ballots in-person, began showing up at early voting sites across North Carolina Thursday.
The in-person early voting period began Thursday and ends October 31.
On Friday, voters Rita Sherrod went out looking for shorter lines than Thursday's record number of people because the lines on the first day were too intimidating.
“Yes, yes I saw them," Sherrod said, "some people, like my friend, stayed in line like two and a half hours.”
Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College, said the amount of voters broke a state record.
“That is going back to 2008, the largest one day number in the states history," Bitzer said.
Bitzer says at this rate, Election Day will only see a limited number of voters.
"We could expect maybe 20-30% of the ballots cast on election day,” Bitzer said.
North Carolina can process votes early. Bitzer said North Carolinians should see the first absentee results on Election Day.
COMPLETE ELECTION COVERAGE: The WCNC Charlotte Decision 2020 Elections Center
“I would suspect in the first hour after the polls close, we could see a huge number of votes drop,” Bitzer said.
Still, Bitzer says that won’t indicate the winner.
“I would be careful because often times while democrats in the bulk of the ballots are done in person early, on election day it generally tends to favor republicans,” Bitzer said.
Those voting by absentee ballot in North Carolina must have their envelope postmarked by Election Day, Tuesday, November 3.
UPDATE: On October 20, a federal appeals court ruled that the State of North Carolina can count absentee ballots that are postmarked by Election Day for upwards of nine days after the election. This was an extension from the previous three-day deadline.
Absentee ballots can also be hand-delivered to your local county board of elections office on or before Election Day.