RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Absentee mail-in voters in North Carolina have cast nearly 4,500 ballots over the past week, state Board of Elections data show.
The state’s acceptance rate climbed to 97 percent Thursday, two days after it was at 71 percent as the first of those ballots were cast after they were mailed last week, with 131 ballots not being accepted.
John Couvillion, a Louisiana-based election analytics expert, says the rejection rate “plunged” to 3 percent in recent days and says it’s too soon to worry about any possible effect rejected ballots might have on certain races.
For example, Democrat Roy Cooper won the 2016 gubernatorial race with 49 percent of the vote to 48.8 percent for Republican incumbent Pat McCrory.
“You can’t really make any kind of statistical judgments until you see if that’s happening again and again,” Couvillion told CBS 17 News.
As of Thursday, election data show 737,347 mail-in ballots have been requested — an increase of 118,505 since last Thursday — with 4,487 already having been cast and returned.
“That number is skyrocketing … you’ve only had a few days of the ballots being out there in people’s mailboxes,” Couvillion said. “That suggests to me that people are ready to start voting.”
State data indicate 4,356 of them were accepted.
Data show 84 of the 131 rejected ballots were classified as spoiled. CBS 17 News spoke to two voters Thursday who were listed as having spoiled ballots, and both said they had requested new ones — either because they changed addresses, or made a mistake in filling it out.
Before replacement ballots could be issued, the old ones had to be canceled.
“Even though it’s double the paperwork, it is leaving the audit trail, which I certainly think needs to be done,” Couvillion said.
Another 36 ballots were rejected for having incomplete witness information.
Data also show 25 of the unaccepted ballots were from New Hanover County with 17 of them from both Pitt and Cumberland counties.
The average age of voters whose ballots were not accepted was 61, while that figure was 64 for voters with accepted ballots.
Among ballots that have been accepted so far, 59 percent of them were registered as Democrats while just 12 percent were Republicans. The total of 7 million registered voters in the state are roughly split into thirds among Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters.
“So when you see numbers that are that much in variance with the voter registration statistics, that suggests to me that there is elevated Democratic enthusiasm,” Couvillion said.