Forsyth County ready for early voting

Forsyth County ready for early voting
October 20
08:30 2016



Thursday, Oct. 20, is the beginning of North Carolina’s One Stop/Early Voting period, leading up to what many see as a decisive Nov. 8 General Election Day in both state and national politics. How is Forsyth County going to vote, and who is going to lead the way to the polls, especially during early voting?

Forsyth County, as of Oct. 8, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections, has 250,105 registered total voters on the rolls. Of that number, 104,191 are Democrats; 75,949 are Republicans; 1, 089 are Libertarians, and 68, 876 are unaffiliated voters.

Racially, the county’s African-American voters number 69,258, while Hispanic voters are way under ten thousand at 7,291. White voters are almost 100,000 more than black voters at 162,621.

In terms of gender, female voters outnumber their male counterparts in Forsyth County, with 135,300 versus 109,590. Given that high-profile women candidates are running for president and the U.S. Senate, it will be noteworthy how the female voter advantage at the polls will figure into both races.

One North Carolina voting statistic that seems to hold up at least during the last two presidential elections, during 2008 and 2012, is that of black female Democrats. They led all groups regardless of gender or party during early voting – white female Democrats and Republicans (black female Republicans too); white male Democrats and Republicans; and black male Democrats and Republicans.

For the first seven days of early voting/same – day registration in Forsyth County, ballots will be cast only at one location – the county Board of Elections office in the Forsyth County Government Center, 201 North Chestnut St., in downtown Winston-Salem.

In order to same-day register, those applicants must provide proof of current residency (a current utility bill, driver’s license, bank statement, college photo ID).

The Forsyth County Democratic Party has slated GOTV (get out the vote) events to promote the early voting period of Oct. 27 to Nov. 5 when the number of voting sites are spread out across the city and county, including Spraque Street Recreation Center, Anderson Recreation Center in Reynolds Park, St. Paul United Methodist Church and Brown-Douglas Recreation Center.

“We’re going to make sure that all of those early voting sites are activated, energized, overwhelmed, and just a hotbed of activity,” Eric Ellison, chairman of the Forsyth County Democratic Party, told The Chronicle.

Early voting has generally proven to be popular with African-American voters, which is why it was targeted by the N.C. Republican-led General Assembly in 2013. Absentee balloting by mail, however, is seen as being favored mostly by whites and Republicans.

According to the Forsyth County Board of Elections, for the 2016 General Election requested applications and sample ballots for absentee ballots by mail, Republicans submitted 3,466; Democrats 2,697; 1,259 were unaffiliated; and just 16 were Libertarian.

For the presidential and gubernatorial elections of 2012, a total 8,391 Republicans requested absentee by mail applications; Democrats, 4,516; unaffiliateds, 2,477; and Libertarian, 48.

But how many of those absentee mail-in ballots were returned?

In 2012, Republicans returned 5,125; Democrats 2,684; unaffiliateds, 1,717 and Libertarians, 23 were the final numbers.

As of Oct. 13 for the 2016 General Election, thus far 550 Republicans have returned absentee ballots; Democrats, 535; unaffiliateds, 292; and Libertarians 3.

The deadline to request a mail-in absentee ballot is Nov. 1 by 5 p.m. Voted absentee ballots are due postmarked by Nov. 8, Election Day and received by 5 p.m. on the third day after Election Day. Mail-in absentee ballots received by 5 p.m. the day before Election Day (Monday, Nov. 7) are accepted if returned in person.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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