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Durham turnout jumps in 2020, most ballots cast early or by mail

In a historic general election, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received more votes than any past presidential ticket, with 76,428,739 votes as of Tuesday evening. Undeterred by an increasing COVID-19 infection rate, Durham County voters also showed up to the polls—and the mailbox—in record numbers. 

As of Tuesday evening, Durham had reported 177,892 votes to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, or 72.75% of the county’s 244,534 registered voters. About 98% of ballots had been counted as of Tuesday.

Durham County’s turnout among registered voters was slightly lower than the statewide turnout of 74.6%. However, it was more than five points higher than the participation rate in the 2016 General Election, when Durham residents cast 157,022 ballots, amounting to a turnout rate of 67.56% among registered voters.

The patterns of voting methods also looked different this year 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Durham voters elected to cast their ballots by mail or during early voting. As of Nov. 10, 165,738 Durham County ballots—more than 90% of all votes in Durham—were cast absentee or through one-stop early voting.

Of those ballots, 47,900 were mail-in, and 117,838 were cast at one of the 12 early voting sites in Durham County, including one on Duke’s campus at the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center.

According to a tweet from the Durham County Board of Elections, almost half—48%—of all potential Durham County voters voted early in the 2020 election.

Durham voters in both 2016 and 2020 overwhelmingly supported the Democratic candidates on the ballot. Many federal and state Democratic candidates received around 80% of the vote in the county this year.

In Durham County, 80.56% of voters cast their ballot in support of Biden, while only 17.96% supported Trump. Similar trends continued down the ballot: 77.59% of voters supported Cal Cunningham for U.S. Senate, and only 18.98% endorsed Senator Thom Tillis’ reelection bid.

In the U.S. House of Representatives race, 81.2% of Durham County voters in the fourth district cast their ballot for incumbent Democrat David Price, and 18.8% voted for Republican Robert Thomas.

At the state level, Governor Roy Cooper’s reelection campaign came to center on COVID-19, with him and his opponent, Dan Forest, taking vastly different views on safety measures. Durham County overwhelmingly supported Cooper, who carried 82.03% of the county’s votes while winning statewide.


Kathryn Thomas

Kathryn Thomas is a Trinity sophomore and an associate news editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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