Poll: Despite Concerns Over COVID-19, Most People of Color in North Carolina Plan to Vote in Person though Election Day

Election 2020

The in-person voting plans of Black, Latinx, and AAPI voters in North Carolina must be protected, voting rights advocates say

For Immediate Release
October 15, 2020

Media Contact
Maria Cruz Lee
maria.lee@publicwise.org; 347-882-3225

North Carolina – A major new poll released today by the nonpartisan group Public Wise reveals that most people of color in North Carolina will vote in person through Election Day, despite concerns about COVID-19, and are unlikely to change their plans.

The poll of 1,077 likely voters in North Carolina shows that most voters of color will cast their ballots at physical polling sites either on Election Day or as part of early voting. It deliberately oversamples people of color who are Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in North Carolina to offer a more reliable and nuanced picture of their voting behavior than most standard polls that usually undersample these same voters.

Overall, the poll, conducted by Change Research, reveals that 33% of likely voters of color in North Carolina plan to vote in person on Election Day, 39% plan to vote in person through early voting, and 18% plan to vote absentee ballot or by mail.

North Carolina Voter Plans
North Carolina Voter Plans

Here are the likely voting plans of North Carolina Democrats, Independents, and Republicans:

  • North Carolinians voting in person on Election Day: 22% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, 42% of Independents, 74% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters;
  • North Carolinians voting in person through early voting: 48% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, 32% of Independents, and 22% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters;
  • North Carolinians voting by absentee ballot or by mail: 22% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, 9% of Independents, and 3% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters.

Given the large number of North Carolinians of color expected to vote in-person through Election Day, Public Wise is also helping to fund local efforts to increase the availability of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) at polling stations across the state.

“The in-person voting plans of all North Carolina voters must be fully supported and protected, especially at a time when our multi-racial democracy is under attack from the twin threats of COVID-19 and voter suppression. That’s why we’re releasing our poll findings and investing in grassroots efforts to ensure that every in-person voter in North Carolina has masks and personal, protective equipment (PPE). In recent weeks, we’ve briefed grassroots groups in North Carolina about the importance of ensuring that all voting in person can happen safely. With so much at stake in the upcoming elections, it’s not enough just to get out the vote. We must also protect the ability of everyone to vote, especially in communities of color with the greatest risks of COVID-19 and voter suppression. Every voter must be treated with equal respect and dignity,” said Christina Baal-Owens, Executive Director of Public Wise.

“This recent polling clearly articulates what we have been hearing from our networks across the state since the start of the pandemic. Traditional in-person voting is still the preferred method for communities plagued with historical irregularities in casting their vote. Despite the worst pandemic in recent history and an expanded mail-in process, we must ensure our in-person voters are protected, especially the large number of seniors and vulnerable populations regardless of race or gender. This is why we launched our voter safety and protection campaign to ensure that every voter has access to PPE and a way to plan for whichever option they decide to cast their ballot,” said Courtney Crowder, Executive Director of North Carolina Black Alliance.

The poll’s findings about most people of color in North Carolina planning to vote in person are consistent with a larger trend for several battleground states. Indeed, the same poll finds that most people of color in Georgia and Pennsylvania also plan to vote in person. In Arizona, nearly half of the state’s voters of color plan to vote in person. 

Overall, 38% of Black voters and 39% of Latinx voters in these four battleground states plan to vote in person on Election Day; 29% of Black voters and 15% of Latinx voters plan to vote early in person; and 24% of Black voters and 39% of Latinx voters plan to vote by mail or absentee ballot, the poll finds. 

Across demographic groups, voters are extremely motivated to participate in elections this year, compared to previous years. 

96% of voters say they are an 8 out of 10 or higher in terms of motivation, even while 67% of Black voters, 60% of Latinx voters, and 77% of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say COVID-19 is a very serious or serious concern with in-person voting, the poll finds.

About Public Wise

Public Wise is an organization formed in 2019 with a mission to create a government that reflects the will of the people. We set out to provide partners with concrete data to help inform organizing efforts this year. To learn more about our work, please visit www.publicwise.org 

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North Carolina (Presentation | Crosstabs) Change Research surveyed 1,077 likely voters online across North Carolina. Change Research uses Dynamic Online Sampling to recruit a representative sample. Weighting was done on gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and 2016 vote. The margin of error is ± 3.0% for the full sample and larger among subgroups.