Are One-Day Registration Drives Effective?

North Carolina, as well as many other states, experience one-day voter registration drives, primarily at colleges and universities. News articles appear now and then featuring young people filling out registration forms or marching en masse to county board of election offices. However, there is little followup on the “stickyness” of these registrations, that is, of the rate of actually voting amongst these registrants differs from that of their non-involved peers, or of the population at-large. In this report, I shall attempt to respond to that question.

At present, since this report is being run on 2020-09-26, I will be preparing to respond to the voter data that will be made available by NCSBE later in December, 2020.

I will be using the ncvoter data only for Active voters. I include records only for those registered as Democrat, Republican, or Unassigned, unless otherwise noted. These party affiliations comprise about 99 percent of the registered voters. This report uses the NCSBE ncvoter file datestamped September 26, 2020.

The Nature of the Voter Registration Data

For convenience of display, I will be presenting some data by year. However, much of my analysis extends uniformly over periods comprised of multiple years. I will concentrate on 2018 and later since the NCSBE data that I have does not extend back very far.

All Days of the Year

The next plots are the daily number of registrations for 2017, 2018, 2019, and for the partial year 2020 (through August). The days when the number of registrations are particularly low are weekends or holidays.

Excluding Weekends and Holidays

The next plots are, again, for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, but exclude weekends and holidays. I have also excluded one additional low-number day, April 19, 2019, when severe weather hit the central part of the state, as reported at weather.gov. Also, 2017-04-14 and 2017-11-10 recorded anomalously low registrations, but I have not been able to associate those days with severe weather throughout the state. The second plot for 2020, labeled “X 2020-0103”, excludes weekends, holidays, and the dates just noted, as well as 2020-01-03. That latter date accomodated the preregistrations of 16 and 17 year old students that I discuss at more length below.