By on 10.27.20 in Elections & Voting

A previous version of this post contained incorrect data for select groups due to a coding error that duplicated a small number of records. We have updated this post to correct for this error and also reflect the most recent data as of October 28, 2020.

5pm ET on October 27th was the deadline for North Carolina voters to request an absentee ballot by mail for the November 3, 2020 election.

As of October 28th, more than 1.4 million North Carolina voters have requested an absentee ballot by mail—this represents 20% of North Carolina’s 7.3 million registered voters. With more than half of these requested ballots returned and accepted, one in every nine North Carolina voters has already voted using absentee by mail.

In this post, we break down how this varies by key demographic characteristics. The table below shows statewide data for the following key metrics:

  • Total registered voters (as of 10/24/2020)
  • Total absentee ballot requests requested (as of 5 a.m. on 10/28/2020)
  • Total absentee ballots returned and accepted (as of 5 a.m. on 10/28/2020)
  • Percent of all registered voters requesting an absentee ballot
  • Percent of all absentee ballots requested that have been accepted
  • Percent of all registered voters who have voted absentee

Party Affiliation

One in four registered Democratic voters (26%) has requested to vote absentee by mail in North Carolina, the highest share of any party affiliation. Republican voters requested absentee ballots half as often (13%), while unaffiliated voters were in the middle (20%).

A similar share of Democratic (58%) and Republican (56%) voters who requested absentee ballots have already voted, as have 55% of unaffiliated voters.

Because of the large differences in requesting an absentee ballot, Democratic voters are more than twice as likely to have voted already than Republicans: 15% of North Carolina Democrats have voted absentee by mail vs. 7% of North Carolina Republicans.

Total RegisteredAbsentee RequestsAccepted AbsenteePercent Requested (of Voters)Percent Accepted (of Requests)Percent Voted Absentee
by Party Affiliation
by Sex
by Age
Age 18 - 25944,700144,71363,82715%44%7%
Age 26 - 401,830,685276,832132,69815%48%7%
Age 41 - 652,965,728526,624290,84918%55%10%
Age Over 651,577,223500,791331,98832%66%21%
by Race/Ethnicity
American Indian54,4806,4413,03412%47%6%
Asian/Pacific Islander102,22637,68020,44237%54%20%


Compared to men, women are more likely to request an absentee ballot (21% vs. 18%). Among those who made this request, however, men are more likely to have voted already (59% vs. 56% of women).


With one week to go, more than one in five voters over age 65 have already cast their ballot in the 2020 election. Voters over age 65 are most likely to have requested an absentee ballot: nearly one in three requested to vote absentee compared to 18% in the next highest age group (ages 41-65). Voters in this age group are also the most likely to have returned their ballot: 66% have returned their absentee ballot already compared to 55% among ages 41-65 and less than half of all other age groups who requested to vote absentee.


Among voters reporting race and ethnicity, individuals identifying as Asian or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander were most likely to request absentee ballots: 37% have requested to vote absentee, the highest share of any demographic group shown here. Over half of these individuals have returned their ballot already, meaning that 20% of North Carolina’s registered Asian voters have already participated in the election.

American Indian voters were the least likely to request an absentee ballot (12%). Among those who did request a ballot, American Indian and Hispanic voters were least likely (47%) to have had their absentee ballot counted already.

How much are these differences in requests for absentee ballots tied to county-level patterns in COVID-19? How much do these gaps close when we account for trends in early voting? We’ll cover these, and other topics, in the lead up to next week’s election.

Data Source: NC State Board of Elections. Files used in this analysis include the 10/24/2020 registered voter file (analysis limited to Active, Inactive, and Temporary voter records), absentee demographic statistics file (10/28/2020), and absentee ballot return file (10/28/2020).

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