Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: New Report Ranks North Carolina’s Best and Worst Counties for Voting Access
Press Release

RELEASE: New Report Ranks North Carolina’s Best and Worst Counties for Voting Access

New County-by-County Analysis of North Carolina’s Election Administration in the 2012 Election

Washington, D.C. – The North Carolina counties with the worst voting access are Hertford, Pender, and Scotland, according to a new report released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The report identifies North Carolina’s best and worst performers for voting access and voter experience by looking at six factors that reflect voters’ ability to participate in the democratic process: voter turnout, overall voter registration rate, rate of registered voters purged from voting rolls, provisional ballots cast, provisional ballots rejected, and absentee ballots rejected.

In addition to examining North Carolina’s worst election offenders, the report offers county-by-county analysis of 16 other swing states—states with the smallest margin of victory between the two presidential candidates in 2012: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The report finds that with election administration delegated to officials and boards in more than 3,000 counties and localities in the United States, the ease with which one exercises his or her right to vote can depend on where he or she lives. This pattern played out in every state that was analyzed.

Key findings from the report include: 

  • Hertford, Pender and Scotland counties were all among the 20 worst in the state on the rate at which voters were removed from the voting list.
  • Out of the 79 North Carolina counties that we evaluated, Hertford also had the highest rate of absentee ballots rejected in the state. Pender was the sixth-worst county on this factor.
  • Although it did not affect the 2012 data analyzed, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed a bill into law in 2013 that dramatically increases barriers to voting. Not only does the bill end same-day registration, but it also shortens early voting days, institutes an ID requirement to vote, and ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds who will be 18 on Election Day.

The report’s findings provide insights that can help officials, policymakers, and advocates better understand voting administration practices that work. By comparing voter access and experience across North Carolina’s counties, officials can determine the best practices for ensuring that citizens have an equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process.

Read the report: Unequal Access: A County-by-County Analysis of Election Administration in Swing States in the 2012 Election by Anna Chu, Joshua Field, and Charles Posner

To speak with experts on this issue, please contact Madeline Meth at [email protected] or 202.741.6277.