Voter Registration Update: 5% Increase Since 2013

by | Jul 31, 2017 | Carolina Strategic Analysis, Features, Politics | 3 comments

Seeing as how voter registration has been in the news a lot lately, I thought now might be a good time to conduct an updated analysis on registration trends in the state. This will be the first in a series of posts.

The biggest difficulty lies in determining a starting point for the analysis. In the end, I decided to go with analysis of data over the past four years. That’s a long enough time to identify significant trends but not so long that it uncovers trends that are outdated and no longer relevant.

We’ll start with an analysis of changes in total voter registration. Four years ago (7/06/13) the state had 6,448,237 registered voters. Now we have 6,766,094 – an increase of over 300,000 voters, or nearly 5%.

Here’s the rate of increase (or decrease) of total number of registered voters in visual form:

This is a map that many state observers are used to – strong growth in the Triangle and Charlotte metros and along the coast, with the rest of the state struggling to keep up. Unsurprisingly, there’s a strong correlation between growth in registered voters and population growth. However, the population numbers are actually more dire for the parts of the state than this map might depict, as some counties (particularly in the west) saw registration growth despite population decline. We might be able to attribute this to the Trump effect.

The county with the largest voter registration growth is Brunswick in the southeast, also the fastest growing county in the state. The county with the largest drop was Mitchell, even though the population estimates don’t depict such a negative forecast. It’s possible aggressive purging of voter rolls could be at play here. Such actions are largely at the discretion of county boards of elections.

In terms of raw numbers, Wake was the clear winner with a gain of 60,322 registered voters. The biggest loser was Craven (New Bern). Again, not sure what’s going on there.

In the next post, we’ll take a look at trends in partisan registration and what they mean for the future of North Carolina politics.


  1. Bob Gunn

    Remains to be seen how predictive these analyses are of future elections in the near term. For now they are informative and thought provoking. Please continue them.

  2. Jim Bartow

    The only problem with this analysis is that it also measures the transitory nature of the county’s population. Orange county for example has high new registration numbers because so many people are moving in and out of the county all of the time. I would expect the transitory nature of more rural counties to be significantly lower.

    A similar effect also effects turnout statistics. For example, my precinct in 2016 had a 75% increase in voters between 2012 and 2016 without a significant increase in population, but only 45% of “registered” voters turned out to vote in 2016. There is no possible way that only a quarter of the residents turned out in 2012.

  3. Norma Munn

    Thanks. Please continue this analysis.

Related Posts


Get the latest posts from PoliticsNC delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!