GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Voters across the country will head to the polls Tuesday, but millions have already cast their ballots, including many in North Carolina who participated in early voting.
Early voting numbers across the country were up this year compared to the last presidential election in 2012.
In North Carolina, those numbers reached record levels with more than 3.1 million people casting their ballots early. The State Board of Elections says that’s more than 45% of North Carolina’s nearly 7 million registered voters. That’s up more than 13% from 2012.
In Pitt County, 44% of voters participated in early voting. That’s up from 42% in 2012.
Political experts say the high turnout is driven by a growing number of unaffiliated voters, many who are millennials.
“This year both candidates are perceived really negatively and some people have said ‘a pox on both your houses, I’m not going to vote for either of you.’ But it seems like in the last analysis that some people are saying ‘well my might vote mater, maybe I should vote, you know this thing is really close,'” said ECU Political Science Professor Carmine Scavo.
Scavo says all the attention on the swing state this year is likely bringing more voters to the polls.
“The state is probably going to be decided by a couple of thousand votes and even though your vote, the probability of your vote influencing the election is extremely low, it’s a lot higher than it is if you lived in California or New York or Arizona or Iowa or some of these places that it’s clear who’s going to win those states,” Scavo said.
Many people who cast their ballots over the 17-day early voting period encountered long lines. Political experts say that’s because the state eliminated straight party voting this year, so it’s taking people longer to vote.
Voters can expect to see longer than normal lines on Election Day as well.
Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. People will be allowed to vote as long as they’re in line by 7:30 p.m.