Early voting is proving to be a big hit this year with county voters and,
by Friday, Oct. 19, after three days of it, more than 18,000 citizens had
already cast their votes for the November election. That’s about 2,000 more
than voted in the first three days of early voting in the 2014 midterm
election – and, since there are 50 percent more days of early voting this
year, some election officials think those initial numbers could be a sign
of very strong turnout for the 2018 election.

Guilford County Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said it’s hard to
predict how high the turnout will be in this election from the initial
numbers because there are some key differences from previous midterms.

“We don’t have a good apples to apples comparison,” he said. “I have no
idea how this is going to extrapolate to the rest of the election.”

“We had nearly 60,000 [total] early votes in 2014 and we’re already at
16,000,” Collicutt said late Friday afternoon before a couple thousand more
votes came in.

He pointed out that, in 2014, Guilford County only had 10 days of early
voting but now there are 15.

He said a lot of things go into determining voter turnout, including media
coverage, the amount of money spent by the candidates and the effect of
“outside influences.”

Election staff, who were working well into the night at the Old Guilford
County Court House on Thursday, Oct. 18, commented on all the activity in
the office, citing a large numbers phone calls and ballots by mail.

Other counties are also already seeing a solid stream of voters.

Tim Tsujii, the director of elections in Forsyth County, said, “The first
day, we had a lot of voters.”

Tsujii said there’s always a “surge” of voters at the start of the early
voting period as well as at the end. Like Collicutt, Tsujii said business
had been good but it’s hard to predict final voter turnout at this point.

The option of early voting is growing more popular in Guilford County. In
2014, roughly one-third of all ballots cast at a voting booth were early
votes while, in 2016, two-thirds of all votes casts in booths were early

Early voting ends on Saturday, Nov. 3.