<-Cassiodorus' Web NCSBE->

Analysis Plan

This analysis will concentrate on the registration and voting of young people in North Carolina. I will characterize and quantify their conversion (voting in the following general election) and retention (voting in subsequent general elections) rates. These young people will be compared according to whether or not they registered in the course of identifiable registration drives, and also compared with older persons. I will treat this in two segments, the early registration of high school age people that began in 2019 and was expressed on 2019-12-09, 2020-01-03, 2020-01-08 as a large bolus of registrations, and voter registration drives of brief duration, directed at younger potential voters. My intent is to assess the effectiveness of these voter registration drives compared to the conventional practice of registering people on an ongoing, undifferentiated basis. My analysis is carried out using R rmarkdown, thereby generating reports directly and reproducibly from NCSBE data. This report uses NCSBE ncvoter and ncvhis files datestamped December 26, 2020. North Carolina demographic data and analyses can be conveniently found at the Office of the State Demographer.

NCSBE Data

The North Carolina State Board of Elections makes publicly available detailed data on voter registration and voter history, as documented in the North_Carolina_ListMaintenancePolicy. This data can be found at https://dl.ncsbe.gov/?prefix=data/. The data is updated weekly. The voter history file, ncvhis, accumulates data extending backward about a decade. The voter registration file, ncvoter, updates voter status and, while it retains voters for some time after they become inactive, presents time-dependent data. In addition, there are cumulative “snapshots” (in the snapshot folder of the repository) that contain about a decade of voter registration data. I have combined ncvoter and snapshot data to produce reasonably comprehensive voter registration information, although there are some aspects of the snapshot files that I find difficult to understand. A somewhat dated but still helpful discussion and instantiation of open source voter registration analysis for North Carolina data can be found at https://github.com/NCVotes/voters-ingestor. The “ingestor” uses PostgreSQL (also know as Postgres), while my work stays within the R statistical analysis system.

NCSBE assigns voters to one of five categories: Active, Inactive (have not voted in the past two general elections and are candidates for being removed), Removed, Denied, and Temporary (applicable to military and overseas - this applies to a very small number of persons). Voter registration laws require that each voter have one and only one voter registration record. The NCSBE data includes a unique person identifier (ncid), county of residence, date of registration, age on last day of year of registration, race, gender, political party, and various other voting-related data. Political party includes those that are qualified according to North Carolina law, and presently include Constitution, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, Republican, and also Unassigned (i.e., unaffiliated/independent). In North Carolina, voters can participate in primary elections for their party affiliation, or in the primary of a specific if they are previously unaffiliated. For the most part, I will concentrate on voters who identify themselves as Democrat, Republican, and Unassigned, who constitute about 99% of the registrants. My analysis also focusses on voters with status Active. This can be problematical when looking at registrations that took place more than two years prior to the present since voter status may have changed. I will try to bring attention to any steps that might be confused by this.

Voting of Registrants

There is an expected diminution of participation over time due to people leaving the state, as well as those dying or in other ways no longer able to participate in the electoral process. The death rate for 15 to 24 year olds across the United States was a little over 70 per 100,000 in 2018 (that is, pre-COVID) according to the CDC. Generously rounded up this is only 1 per 1,000. This is so low that it should not be expected to noticeably influence the voter participation analysis shown below.

The Census Bureau provides estimates of state outward migration as part of the American Community Survey reports. The 2014 to 2018 estimates for North Carolina here suggest 243,883 persons of all ages move out of NC each year. Looking at 18-year olds. This might amount to some 4,100 persons lost to followup, which again is sufficiently small to be ignored in this analysis.

Registration is carried out as described by NCSBE here. Deadlines are described here. The analysis carried out in this series of reports will show that early voting plays a large role in understanding voting rates. NCSBE describes early voting here. This process is described by NCSBE as:

The early voting period begins and ends before Election Day. (For the 2020 general election, early voting occurred October 15–31 in North Carolina.) Any registered voter or eligible individual in North Carolina may cast an absentee ballot in person during this time. This period is sometimes called “one-stop early voting.” Individuals who are not registered to vote in a county may register at early voting sites during the early voting period. After registering, the newly registered voter can immediately vote at that same site. This process is called “same-day registration.”

The NCSBE voter registration files show that there was a remarkably high number of registrations dated 2020-01-03. This is due to legislation to accomodate North Carolina's preregistration for young people who are 16 or 17 years old. According to the NCSBE, “To register to vote in North Carolina, eligible voters must be at least 18 years old, but 16- and 17-year-olds may preregister to vote. This means that once you become eligible by age to vote, your voter registration application will then be processed. Until you are registered, you will not be eligible to vote.”. The 2019 ncvoter data shows that there were high numbers of registrations for 17 year olds for 2019-12-09. I have not been able to determine the reason for this, but I will assume it is associated with the administration of early registration and include those young people along with those registered on 2020-01-03 and 2020-01-08 (this last for Brunswick County) in my analysis. Another report shows this assumption to be supported by the data for the two-LEA Orange County. Any of these 17 year old registrants who were 18 years old at the time of the 2020 general election would qualify to become active voters.

Percentage Voting for January 2016 Through October 2020 Registrants

The voting rate in the 2020 presidential election is shown for each registration year. For instance, the “2016” columns show the rate of voting in 2020 of persons registered in 2016. For 2020, the registration dates are arranged into three non-overlapping intervals. “2020Prereg” is for pre-registration, specifically on 2019-12-09, 2020-01-03, 2020-01-08. “OneStop2020” is for one-stop registration and voting, October 15-31, 2020. “2020” is for January 1 through October 14, and does not include registrants for pre-registration or one-stop registration.

I have identified 5 counties that contain the top forty percent of the pre-registrants, WAKE, MECKLENBURG, GUILFORD, UNION, FORSYTH. They constitute a coherent group when the distribution of pre-registrants is viewed graphically, which I treat at some length in another report. These counties include Mecklenburg and Wake, the two most populous counties in North Carolina, which account for the preponderance of the pre-registration and voting counts. One of my motives for this breakout is to point out that treating all eighteen year olds as single, featureless block suppresses understanding of what is happening in North Carolina. I pursue further investigation into these counties in other reports.

Comparison of Voting Rates

Eighteen-year olds taken as a whole generally vote at a lower rate than the general population. However, they seem to have been particularly enthusiastic about one-stop voting, where they voted at higher rates than the general population. Eighteen-year olds in the top forty percent counties are distinguished by a roughly five percent higher voting rate than in the other counties, and sometimes exceed the general population rate. A naive binomial 95% confidence interval is about +/- 1% for this data. “2020Prereg” includes All Ages for completeness, but there are few pre-registrants older than eighteen. Detailed data is in Appendix A of this report.

If the young people in the top forty percent counties had voted at the lower rate of those in the other counties, approximately 1,500 voters would have been lost. Turning that around, if the voting rate of all the pre-registrants were raised to match that of the top forty percent counties, an additional 1,800 would have voted. Another report in this series pursues a somewhat different line of reasoning to estimate the effectiveness of pre-registration.

Appendix A. Counts and Percentages for January 2016 Through October 2020 Registrants

In these tables, the voting rate in the 2020 presidential election is shown for each registration year. This includes all persons who are present in the 2020-12-26 ncvoter file, that is, some persons will not have an Active status but the counts are comprehensive. For 2020, the registration dates are arranged into three non-overlapping intervals. “Prereg2020” is for pre-registration, specifically on 2019-12-09, 2020-01-03, 2020-01-08, and includes All Ages for completeness, but there are few pre-registrants older than eighteen. “OneStop2020” is for one-stop registration and voting, October 15-31, 2020. “Other2020” is for January 1 through October 14, and does not include registrants for early or October registration. The voting rate for one-stop is expected to be particularly high.

Summaries

Summary of Registrations
ageGroup 2016 2017 2018 2019 Other2020 OneStop2020 Prereg2020 total2020
<=18 66,818 75,058 68,564 55,180 28,841 5,026 52,952 86,819
>18 507,657 199,890 394,484 383,408 665,848 126,484 4,849 797,181
Total 574,475 274,948 463,048 438,588 694,689 131,510 57,801 884,000
Statewide Voting Participation in the 2020 Election, All Ages
variable 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 OneStop2020 Prereg2020
pct.Lost 24.3 33.3 28.5 30 19 11.4 27.4
pct.Voted 75.7 66.7 71.5 70 81 88.6 72.6
Top Forty Percent Counties Voting Participation of 18 Years Old or Younger in the 2020 Election
variable 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 OneStop2020 Prereg2020
pct.Lost 67.3 33.1 35 32.7 24.9 8.4 23.3
pct.Voted 132.7 66.9 65 67.3 75.1 91.6 76.7
Statewide Voting Participation of 18 Years Old or Younger in the 2020 Election
variable 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 OneStop2020 Prereg2020
pct.Lost 33.4 37.6 39.1 37.3 28 12 27.4
pct.Voted 66.6 62.4 60.9 62.7 72 88 72.6
Other Than Top Forty Percent Counties Voting Participation of 18 Years Old or Younger in the 2020 Election
variable 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 OneStop2020 Prereg2020
pct.Lost 35.1 39.9 41.2 40 29.3 12.8 29.9
pct.Voted 64.9 60.1 58.8 60 70.7 87.2 70.1

Detailed Data

Statewide Voting Participation in the 2020 Presidential Election, All Ages
election_date registr_yr Regular Voted.Reg pct.Voted.Reg Prereg2020 Voted.Prereg2020 pct.Voted.Prereg2020 OneStop2020 Voted.OneStop2020 pct.Voted.OneStop2020
2020-11-03 2016 574475 434752 75.7 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2017 274948 183517 66.7 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2018 463048 331177 71.5 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2019 438588 307079 70.0 4630 3271 70.6 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2020 694689 562876 81.0 53171 38717 72.8 131510 116576 88.6
Top Fory Percent Counties Voting Participation of 18 Years Old or Younger in the 2020 Presidential Election
election_date registr_yr Regular Voted.Reg pct.Voted.Reg Prereg2020 Voted.Prereg2020 pct.Voted.Prereg2020 OneStop2020 Voted.OneStop2020 pct.Voted.OneStop2020
2020-11-03 2016 26227 18196 69.4 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2017 25213 16869 66.9 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2018 23805 15463 65.0 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2019 20534 13826 67.3 87 58 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2020 9853 7404 75.1 20495 15732 76.8 1778 1628 91.6
Statewide Voting Participation of 18 Years Old or Younger in the 2020 Presidential Election
election_date registr_yr Regular Voted.Reg pct.Voted.Reg Prereg2020 Voted.Prereg2020 pct.Voted.Prereg2020 OneStop2020 Voted.OneStop2020 pct.Voted.OneStop2020
2020-11-03 2016 66818 44520 66.6 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2017 75058 46806 62.4 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2018 68564 41785 60.9 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2019 55180 34617 62.7 3258 2267 69.6 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2020 28841 20754 72.0 49694 36201 72.8 5026 4425 88
Other Than Top Forty Percent Counties Voting Participation of 18 Years Old or Younger in the 2020 Presidential Election
election_date registr_yr Regular Voted.Reg pct.Voted.Reg Prereg2020 Voted.Prereg2020 pct.Voted.Prereg2020 OneStop2020 Voted.OneStop2020 pct.Voted.OneStop2020
2020-11-03 2016 40591 26339 64.9 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2017 49845 29944 60.1 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2018 44759 26334 58.8 0 0 NA 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2019 34646 20798 60.0 3171 2209 69.7 0 0 NA
2020-11-03 2020 18988 13425 70.7 29199 20476 70.1 3248 2832 87.2

Appendix B. Notes on Accuracy and Repeatability

This report has presented the counts of registrants and voters with the implication of having an accuracy beyond what is actually the case. The content of the NCSBE ncvoter and ncvhis files change over time, both in the number of records and the status of voters. In the weeks following a general election the number of registrants and their voting records may change rather quickly. This is further complicated by the need to incorporate a NCSBE snapshot file, necessitating a choice of the file and the method of incorporation. As examples, here are ncvoter registration year vs. status (the status_cd of each registrant) for two issuances in the weeks after the 2020 general election. The differences over that two week interval are small, although the Inactive status seems to have been subject to substantial updating. If files separated by a larger interval were used, the differences would be more pronounced.

Voter Status: A = Active; D = Deleted; I = Inactive; R = Rejected; S = Overseas Military
Comparison of ncvoter Files
2020-12-12 2020-12-26
registr_yr A D I R S
2016 575465 10366 117890 48723 384
2017 275385 5291 23733 4524 7
2018 463992 8202 26970 10040 1174
2019 443971 5277 13702 1313 129
2020 879720 5655 2588 1148 7536
registr_yr A D I R S
2016 574475 10364 113930 51370 383
2017 274948 5291 23273 4603 7
2018 463048 8199 27052 10282 1174
2019 443218 5277 13758 1395 127
2020 879370 5799 3529 1335 7517


This report was run on 2021-02-10.