Dems, GOP working to register voters in NC as Election Day approaches

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With 42 days until the election, campaigns are making pushes to get voters to the polls or cast mail-in ballots.

On Tuesday several groups made pushes to register voters on “National Voter Registration Day,” but those efforts look different than in previous elections due to COVID-19.

“We’re social media organizing through TikTok and Instagram. DMing them on Twitter. We are finding young voters on the platforms that they use,” said NextGen North Carolina press secretary Rachel Weber.

Weber said NextGen North Carolina is the state’s largest youth voter registration program. 

According to Weber, 45,000 North Carolinians aged 18-35 registered to vote during the month of August.

On Tuesday, the group hosted several virtual events encouraging people to register to vote, such as afternoon trivia and watch party for the North Carolina Senate debate.

“We know that these voters could be the margin of victory or defeat for Democrats up and down the ballot this election,” she said.

Chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party Michael Whatley said GOP efforts to register voters began last year. 

In particular, they reached out to voters who recently moved to the state.

“North Carolina delivered about 2.36 million votes for both President Trump and Dan Forest in 2016.  If we deliver that same number we’ll lose. We’ve got about 6 percent more people living in North Carolina and 7 or 8 percent more registered voters than we did in 2016.  It’s essential for us to get those people registered,” he said.

COVID-19 has limited volunteers from going door-to-door, so instead Whatley said they’ve been reaching out online and registering voters at Trump rallies and political events.

Whatey said since July 4th, they’ve registered 46,000 new Republicans.

“We’ve really been pushing very hard on social media spaces. Now we’re starting to get back out into the field and knocking on doors, doing voter registrations drives that are more traditional,” said Whatley.

Mac McCorkle, professor of the Practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy and Director of Polis: Center for Politics at Duke, said voter registration is critical, but COVID-19 makes it difficult to gauge voter turnout.

“Everyone expects it to be close, but it’s almost imponderable due to all the complications with COVID-19 and voting,” he said.

McCorkle said first time mail-in voting, and concern over safety at the polls due to COVID-19 could keep some voters home on Election Day.

“You would usually say older voters are going to be the main voters, the pathological voters, the civically minded who are going to bet there. Whether COVID will depress the number among older voters no one knows,” he said.

His said campaigns will continue to target people to see who has registered and who has put in their vote by mail.

“North Carolina is going to be a very tight situation. The Republicans have to have this state,” said McCorkle. “Even though it’s a swing state, it’s a must-win state.”

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