Friday, June 12, 2020

Post-COVID-19 precipitous drop in NC voter registration

By Michael Bitzer

With the end of May and now the Phase 2 reopening of North Carolina (even though COVID-19 cases in the state are increasing), many are wondering about the economic impact on the state from the stay-at-home order from mid-March. From my point of view and research interest, another area is about voter registration and what has happened over the first five months of 2020. Articles are drawing attention on the drop of new voters across the nation since the pandemic began, and recent actions by the NC General Assembly have sought to loosen the requirements on using absentee vote-by-mail for this year's election.

In looking at the May 30, 2020 voter registration data file from the North Carolina Board of Elections, there was a significant drop in new voter registration in April and May:

To have gone from nearly 80,000 registered voters at the beginning of the year down to less than 20,000 seems to be a significant drop. Some might speculate, well, after a primary election in March, wouldn't voter registration trail off and then pick back up with the beginning of the fall campaign?