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Study reveals state, local voting trends

 

 

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

Lincoln County’s voter turnout for the 2012 election was in the top half of North Carolina’s 100 counties, according to a detailed analysis released Tuesday.

Conducted by Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan election-reform group, the voter-participation study is based on data provided by the counties to the State Board of Elections.

With a voter turnout of 69.6 percent, Lincoln County ranked 40th out of all the counties. In all, 37,028 ballots were cast, with the analysis breaking that number down by various subgroups.

Statewide, 68 percent of the state’s 6.6 million registered voters cast ballots in 2012, but there was a wide gap in the turnout rate between the best- and worst-performing counties, a press release announcing the study’s results noted.

Chatham County, where 76 percent of registered voters cast ballots, ranked first in turnout – as it did in 2008 – while the military-dependent Onslow County ranked last, with a 53 percent turnout rate.

“It’s fascinating to see all the variations in performance among age, gender, race and party groups in the counties,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina.

“Our state has a long history of low participation, going back to the days of the literacy tests and poll tax. Studying high- and low-performing groups in counties can help communities improve participation and civic life.”

Hall also said the split results in the 10 counties with the highest turnout reflect North Carolina’s swing-state status: Five went for Republican Mitt Romney (Davie, Person, Moore, Greene and Beaufort), and five went for Democrat Barack Obama (Chatham, Warren, Wake, Granville and Hertford).

Among Lincoln County’s voters, the study found that nearly 34,000 were white, with 2,319 black and 398 Hispanic voters. Other groups, such as Asian, Middle Eastern, Native American and mixed race were not broken out in the results.

Republicans led the way in Lincoln County with 17,152 of the ballots cast, while there were 11,055 Democratic voters. Nearly 9,000 unaffiliated voters cast ballots, while only 61 Libertarians did so.

Meanwhile, women voters outnumbered the men with 19,412 votes to 17,299.

The age group with the highest turnout was ages 41-65, with slightly more than half of all votes cast. Young voters (ages 18-25) had the smallest turnout, with only 2,710 casting ballots.

 

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