<-Cassiodorus' Web NCSBE->

NCSBE Voter Registration Descriptive Statistics

I will be using the ncvoter data 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 November 21, 2020.

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 with older persons.

Profile of the 2020 Data

The North Carolina State Board of Elections makes publicly available detailed data on voter registration and voter history. This data can be found at https://dl.ncsbe.gov.s3.amazonaws.com/index.html?prefix=data/. This data is updated weekly, but the old files disappear. 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. Carefully combining ncvoter and snapshot can produce comprehensive voter registration information. A very helpful discussion and instantiation of open source voter registration tools 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.

My analysis in this series will look into the effectivesness of voter registration drives to produce voters, in particular drives of brief duration and directed at younger potential voters. In addition, I will include the North Carolina early registration of high school age young people, that began in 2019 and was expressed on 2020-01-03 as a large bolus of registrations. I will concentrate on profiles of active voters. This is a slowly changing set of voters, and I will indicate the date of the NCSBE data file that I am using. My reports are written in R using rmarkdown, thereby being generated directly from NCSBE data.

NCSBE data is not perfect. It depends on the actions of county boards of election. Some errors are immediately obvious, such as those for voter age. I have excluded a small number of records that I can identify as erroneous, but others may persist. This is discussed further in Appendix A.

By way of an overview, here are some statewide observations on active voters who appear in the 2020-11-21 ncvoter file. The total number of active voters is 6,612,492. The following plots show gender, race, ethnicity, and party.

Active Voter Demographics
Party Gender Race Ethnicity
category N pct
CST 4,600 0.1
DEM 2,333,961 35.3
GRE 3,567 0.1
LIB 39,657 0.6
REP 2,068,120 31.3
UNA 2,162,578 32.7
category N pct
F 3,270,151 49.5
M 2,756,484 41.7
U 585,848 8.9
category N pct
A 92,824 1.4
B 1,306,842 19.8
I 48,037 0.7
M 38,521 0.6
O 166,797 2.5
P 404 0.0
U 705,049 10.7
W 4,254,009 64.3
category N pct
HL 194,220 2.9
NL 4,670,098 70.6
UN 1,748,165 26.4

Demographics by Party

The following plots are for currently active voters.

Voter Registration of Democrats, Republicans and Independents 2017 to 2020

The following plots apply to the voters who had an Active status in November 2020. They show the number of registrations by month. Since this looks at registrants who have Active status at the present time, some persons who were Active in 2017 but not more recently are lost due to the rolling updates that NCSBE uses, which I discuss further in reports on data preparation and exploration.

What was happening in October 2018, January and August 2020? The next plots show these months by day. It appears that there were effective voter registration drives on January 3, 2020, and October 12, 2018, with Independents outnumbering the Democrats and Republicans. August 2020 shows a more spread out pattern, with Republicans outnumbering Democrats, although Independents still talley the most.