Voters were given more opportunity to vote early this year and they took advantage of it. 

Early voting for Raleigh and Cary’s municipal elections ended October 4, with over 18,000 people voting over 17 days in seven locations, a nearly 7,500-vote increase compared to the 2017 municipal elections.

Gerry Cohen, a member of the Wake County Board of Elections, said turnout increased the most in Cary, which saw 3,000 more early voters than in 2017 because the mayor’s race is on the ballot. 

The spike in turnout was driven by longer voting hours, more early voting days and more satellite voting stations thanks to a $3.1 million increase in the Wake County Board of Elections budget over 2017.  Overall, residents had three times as many hours to vote early this year.

“With the satellite sites being 17 days instead of four days, there was a lot more opportunity to vote,” Cohen said.

Polling stations saw the most action on the last two days of voting, with the Oct 4 date showing twice the turnout of any other day. 

“That’s always human nature, I guess,” Cohen said. The last day, “is when the procrastinators come out.”

If there is a runoff in the Raleigh mayoral election, the county has already agreed to hold early voting starting Oct 16. In future years, however, the days and voting times may shift again with the fiscal budget.

The median age of Wake County early voters was 59. Over 60 percent of Raleigh voters were Democrats, while in Cary the largest group of voters reported being unaffiliated, at 42 percent. 

Voting ends at 7:30 tonight, with results rolling in around 9:30 p.m. Keep up with INDY Week on our Twitter to see the results come in.

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