North Carolina is poised to cast a record-setting number of absentee by mail ballots this fall, with registered Democrat and unaffiliated voters driving the uptick in requests. As outlined by Catawba College Professor Dr. Michael Bitzer on his website, Old North State Politics, the number of requests has almost doubled 2016’s mail-in ballot figures, with nearly 380,000 requests as of this week. We’re on pace to cast about 12 times the number ballots by mail than we did during the last general election. The requests are being driven by voters over the age of 66, which is typical. What’s more: more than half of those requests are from registered Democats and another third from unaffiliated voters. That leaves just 15 percent of requests from Republicans. No wonder President Donald Trump is trying so hard to undermine the postal service: If the blue box were the ballot box, he’d be screwed. 

However, take that with a grain of salt: Mail-in ballots accounted for just 4 percent of total votes cast in the state in 2016. Bitzer thinks the number of mail-in ballots this year could wind up anywhere between 15 and 40 percent of total votes cast. 

“We don’t know how this dynamic is going to play out,” Bitzer said. “We’ve never seen anything like this in North Carolina. So there is a pattern of vote methods tilted to one party over the other. When you combine them all together, it makes for a very competitive state. But if registered Democrats are fifty-three percent of these ballots so far in terms of requests and that holds, it is a very different dynamic than what we have seen in any North Carolina election.”

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