In Durham County, the number of ballots cast during early voting is likely to be double that of the 2014 midterm election, according to Derek Bowens, director of elections at the Board of Elections.
In 2014, about 15 percent of registered voters (33,291 of 209,797) took part in early voting. By the end of Monday, 23 percent (53,322 of 230,326) had cast their ballots.
Bowens said that he expects 70,000 people will vote before the end of early voting on Nov. 3.
“This is a huge expansion of early voting,” said Gunther Peck, a Duke professor and volunteer for Durham for Organizing Action, which lists “Resisting Trump and Trumpism in all forms” as one of its priorities. “That’s a direct reflection of the strength of local organizing as well as voter enthusiasm.”
In Durham, Peck said, the vote is heavily Democratic as the county gets bluer. However, this is not the case across North Carolina.
“Republicans are not likely to mobilize in Durham because it’s the bluest county in the state,” Peck said. “Statewide, there’s much less evidence of a blue wave. A lot of Republicans are turning out in Republican strongholds.”
Bowens attributes this year’s voter enthusiasm to the current political environment.
“Some of the narratives we’re engaging in are encouraging people to come out and make their voices heard,” Bowens said. “People are fired up.”
Another explanation for increased early voter turnout is that Durham County has a longer early voting period and more early voting sites compared to the 2014 midterm election. This year, the early voting period lasts 18 days instead of 10, and there are additional early voting sites at the East Regional Library and Duke University.