<-Cassiodorus' Web NCSBE->

Early Registration of Young Voters Using Data for 2020-12-12

Analysis of the NCSBE voter registration files shows that there was a remarkably high number of registrations dated 2020-01-03. This is due to an administrative action 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 particularly for December 9. I have not been able to determine the reason for this, but I will assume it is associated with early registration and include those young people in my analysis. Appendix A is a discussion of the December 2019 data.

In this report I will look into several aspects of early registration. My broader purpose is to evaluate the effectiveness of actions the primary purpose of which was to register young voters. This report will concentrate on the 2020-01-03 and 2019-12-09 registrants.

What Were the Ages of the 2019-12-09 and 2020-01-03 Registrants?

The registrants on 2019-12-09 and 2020-01-03 include the delayed bolus of highschool students, as well as people who just happen to register that day. Their ages at the end of 2020 are shown below. They were primarily 18, with a small number being 19 years old.

This next table shows the ages of all the 2020-01-03 registrants for all counties. This includes registrants of all statuses, Active, Inactive, Denied and Removed, as of the 2020-12-12 ncvoter file.

Age 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54
N 51249 124 54 70 39 49 53 49 65 53 51 41 35 29 45 33 49 32 32 21 33 32 17 25 17 30 28 16 12 23 24 27 26 23 23 22 17
Age 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 90 91 92 93 94 96
N 26 15 18 21 17 20 12 20 27 19 19 14 18 23 14 9 9 9 17 2 8 1 4 1 8 1 2 1 5 4 2 6 1 2 1 2 1 1 1

The ages for all the 2019-12-09 registrants for all counties are the following.

Age 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54
N 2828 555 26 25 55 34 20 34 46 43 35 38 45 28 32 33 48 30 28 22 21 33 31 18 26 19 26 21 22 19 25 45 21 22 15 17 23 19
Age 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 88 89 90 92 93 95
N 23 17 11 24 14 16 21 10 27 15 9 17 20 12 22 13 9 7 15 10 8 9 4 2 4 5 5 1 2 3 1 2 2 1 1 2 1 1

A Quick View of Young Registrants Since 2015

The following bar chart summarizes the number of 18 years old or younger registrants since 2015. The population is the same as in the preceding tables.

Early Registrants
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Early: 3,383 51,249
33,676 86,689 80,837 74,036 57,743 43,223


What are the Characteristics of the 2019-12-09 and 2020-01-03 Early-Registrants?

These 17 and 18 year old early registrants for all counties can be characterized as shown below. Differently from the preceding tables and plots, the following includes only those who had a status of Active as of the 2020-12-12 ncvoter file.

18 Year Old Early Regisrants
Party Gender Race Ethnicity
category N pct
CST 82 0.2
DEM 13,299 25.4
GRE 75 0.1
LIB 383 0.7
REP 13,554 25.9
UNA 24,980 47.7
(all) 52,373 100.0
category N pct
F 24,946 47.6
M 24,373 46.5
U 3,054 5.8
(all) 52,373 100.0
category N pct
A 1,202 2.3
B 9,746 18.6
I 211 0.4
M 440 0.8
O 2,945 5.6
P 4 0.0
U 5,907 11.3
W 31,918 60.9
(all) 52,373 100.0
category N pct
HL 4,082 7.8
NL 34,705 66.3
UN 13,586 25.9
(all) 52,373 100.0

Where Were the Early Registrants Located?

First, I will present the locations of these young registrants, using their residential address as entered in their registration forms and recorded in the NCSBE ncvoter file.

The following plot shows the North Carolina zip codes for which there were 18 year old registrants. The plot uses ZCTAs, the Zip Code Tabulation Areas created by the Census Bureau to bring some stability and geographic cohesion to the Post Office Zip Codes. ZCTAs are described by the Census Bureau and in Wikipedia. I use them here since there are fewer ZCTAs than Zip Codes, improving the readability of this map.

The plot shows what is no surpise: counties with higher populations register more young people than do counties with lower populations. However, it appears that Union County, wealthy and predominantly (about 80%) White, located adjacent to Mecklenburg County, is somewhat of an exception to that relationship. Some approximate comparative figures for Union and Mecklenburg counties as of 2018 from the Census Bureau Quick Facts are shown below. Briefly, the proportion of the young population that registered early in Union County was nearly one and a half times that in Mecklenburg County.

16 to 19 is percentage of county population between 16 and 19 years old
18 to 19 is percentage of county population between 18 and 19 years old
MHI is Median Household Income
pct Total is number of 2020-01-03 registrations as a percentage of total population
pct 16-19 is number of 2020-01-03 registrations as a percentage of 16 to 19 year old population
pct 18-19 is number of 2020-01-03 registrations as a percentage of 18 to 19 year old population

Mecklenburg & Union County 2002-01-03 Registrations Quick Facts
Population 16 to 19 18 to 19 MHI Registrations pct Total pct 16-19 pct 18-19
Mecklenburg 1,108,100 4.9% 2.5% $64,500 6,376 0.58% 12% 23%
Union 237,300 6.9% 3.3% $80,400 2,350 0.99% 14% 30%

Here is an overview of 2019-12-09 and 2010-01-03 preregistrants for the “college counties”. These are the 19 counties that demonstrate significant numbers of young early registrants associated with putative drives. They constitute 52 percent of the preregistrants.