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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

GOP Benefits From Early Voting In Charlotte, NC: Decision 2010

Charlotte's Early Vote Brings Out The GOP In Force

Republican Darrell Holland couldn't wait to cast his ballot Monday, the first day Mecklenburg County's early voting spread to locations around the county.

"If I could have voted twice, I would," said Holland, 81. "I want those folks to put a stopper on that (spending.)"

Holland, who voted at Morrison Regional Library, is typical of early voters, according to a study released Monday by Democracy North Carolina.

The group found that early-voting statewide is off to a record pace for midterm elections. Though Democratic voters slightly outnumbered Republicans, the largest single group of early voters were White Republican men.

In 2008, it was black Democratic women who topped the list. That helped Democrat Barack Obama amass a wide early-vote cushion that enabled him to narrowly carry the state.

Democracy North Carolina Director Bob Hall said "the remarkable shift to GOP men" reflects polls that suggest a heavy Republican turnout.

"Early voting doesn't favor one party or another, but reveals who's most organized and enthusiastic about making their voices heard," Hall said. "Combined with the opportunity for same-day registration, our state's early voting process is essentially a tool of empowerment and convenience."

In Mecklenburg, a total of 735 voters cast ballots in the first days of early voting. Democrats outnumbered Republicans but as they did statewide, white Republican men made up the largest single group, according to Democracy North Carolina.

Hall said the total of 72,173 voters was more than twice the 35,728 who voted at the same point in 2006. It's still far from the nearly 267,000 in the first three days of early voting in 2008.

Mecklenburg Elections Director Michael Dickerson said three times as many county voters cast ballots in the first two days of early voting as in 2006, the last mid-term elections. Voting Monday at libraries and other locations was steady, he said, with occasional lines.

Republican men aren't the only ones voting early.

Angie Chandler, 46, is an unaffiliated voter. A former Republican and laid-off bookkeeper, she voted Democratic.

That decision was made easier, she said, by a recent interview with a prospective employer who told her the economy is not all that bad. "If you don't have a job, you don't want a job," she recalled him saying.

"I think a lot of really rich people don't understand how it is for people less fortunate," she said.

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Sources: Democracy NC, McClatchy Newspapers, Google Maps

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