Counties reach 50% turn out during early voting, expect to surpass 2016 numbers

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Early voting is going on at the Hampstead Annex in Pender County. (Photo: Kylie Jones/WWAY)

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — There are still three full days left of early voting, but we’re seeing turnout across the state far surpassing numbers in years past. Counties in the Cape Fear are already reaching the 50% mark of ballots cast.

As of Wednesday morning, half of the registered voters in Pender County already came out to the polls. The chairs of both the Pender County Democratic Party and the Pender County GOP say they’re on track to far surpass the numbers in the 2016 election.

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“I think you’re going to see, probably record turn out in Pender County,” Pender County GOP Chairman Norm Gopsill said.

Democrats and Republicans alike say voter turn out for the 2020 election is unlike years past.

“It’s really important that we have democracy going on here,” Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Ann Johnson said.

Gopsill says they’ve easily gained several thousand voters since the 2016 election. He says they also have actually seen a bigger turn out than Democrats so far this year, which he calls unusual during early voting.

“We’re up over 17,000,” Gopsill said. “The last time I remember a figure, was about 14,500.”

As of Wednesday morning, Pender County reported 22,802 early votes cast out of 44,465 registered voters. In the 2016 election, the Pender County Board of Elections Director says there were a total of 20,625 early votes cast.

“In talking to other people, we all agree that the numbers indicate that we’ll probably have at least an 80% turnout rate, which the last election in 2016, was 69.9%,” Pender County Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Ann Johnson said. “So we’re on target to really kill and shatter the old record.”

In the race for president in 2016, the county reported a total of 27,885 votes cast.

Johnson says they’ve heard concerns about every race, from the presidential race, all the way down to the local races.

“We hear a variety,” Johnson said. “We hear that the presidential is important. but we’re also getting a good turnout for local races.”

Since April, Gopsill says a lot of younger people have also been getting involved.

“I believe Republicans are concerned about all of them,” Gopsill said. “If you look at the past history of Pender County, Pender County is a solid red county.”

Leaders say it’s critical for everyone to come out and vote, especially in this year’s election.

“It’s absolutely critical that we have everybody come out,” Johnson. “I’d like to see 90%-100%, because that’s democracy.”

Gopsill says there are around 6,000 more Republicans than Democrats in the county, but both sides expect to see a higher turnout this year.

“This is the most critical election of our lifetime, and I certainly believe that, and I can’t urge enough for people to get out and cast their ballot,” he said.

In Brunswick County, 64,1118 ballots have been cast so far out of 114,115 registered voters. The Brunswick County Board of Elections says they’ve had around 20,000 more registered voters since 2016.

New Hanover County, 90,665 ballots have already been cast out of a little more than 176,323 registered voters.

Columbus County is reporting 13,983 ballots cast so far out of 36,775 registered voters. The Columbus County Board of Elections says a total of 12,887 early votes were cast in 2016.

Bladen County is reporting 9,929 total ballots cast out of around 23,000 registered voters.