Beaufort County voter turnout higher than state, national percentages

Published 6:27 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Of a total of 33,600 registered voters in in Beaufort County, 19,036 made their voices known during the 2018 election. With 56.65 percent of registered voters participating during Election Day and One-stop voting, county residents turned out in a higher percentage here than voters statewide at 52.36 percent.

“We normally have a higher turnout than statewide,” Beaufort County Board of Elections Director Kellie Hopkins said. “On any election, Beaufort County seems to be on the top ten percentage-wise for turnout. When you look at the percentage of turnout, Beaufort County voters are more engaged in the process than most across the state.”

According to CBS News, an estimated 113 million voters nationwide participated in the 2018 election, placing the national turnout at approximately 49 percent, the highest midterm participation since the 1960s.

On Election Day, a total of 8,522 people cast their vote in Beaufort County. Polling sites at Surry-Bath, Chocowinity and Tranters Creek saw more than 600 people participate, and every site in the county had at least 300 people come out to vote.

All told, 1,077 more people voted in this year’s election in Beaufort County than did in the 2014 midterms. While that number may seem insignificant in state and national races that garner millions or hundreds of thousands of votes, at the local level, that increase in participation can make a difference.

“The turnout numbers will go up (during canvassing) because we can receive more absentee ballots if they were postmarked or sent to us before five o’clock yesterday,” Hopkins said. “Those will be added to the final counts and we also have the provisionals. We’re going through those today (Wednesday) and getting a final number on those. Usually about 50 percent of those will count.”

As to the reasons for not voting, Hopkins says she sees many registered voters who have a genuine feeling that the system fails them. This undermining of confidence, coupled with the perception that one vote can’t make a difference, lead some to not participate at all.

If state and national trends in participation are any indication, however, Americans in general are paying more attention and becoming more engaged. With a higher percentage turnout than either of those, Beaufort County is ahead of the curve.

“I’m pretty proud of Beaufort County with a 56.6 percent turnout rate,” Hopkins concluded. “We prepare for 100 percent. We’re ready and waiting for all the voters and it just makes it more worthwhile when we have a higher turnout.”