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State elections board updates gender, race and ethnicity data for 180,000 voters

When I look at the voter registration changes numbers at Carolina Transparency, I am usually interested in changes in party registration.

But what caught my eye this week was a large change in demographic data. For example, here are the net changes in race for registered voters this week:

  • White: +148,995
  • Black:     +34,664
  • Other:   -181,034

Clearly, this represented a shift in reported data rather than people actually changing their reported race, so I contacted the North Carolina State Board of Elections to see what is going on. Here is the email reply from Patrick Gannon, their Public Information Director:

Some time last year, it was discovered that for people who used DMV online to register or update their registration, their demographic information – including gender, race and ethnicity – was not being sent over to the State Board as part of the data transfer from the DMV.

That resulted in those voters having undesignated fields in their registration files. That issue was fixed both for new registrations moving forward and for everyone who had been affected previously. These data were available; they were simply not being transferred from the DMV to the State Board.

The updates you saw in the voter database this weekend resulted from the DMV data being transferred over for DMV registrants whose demographic information had not previously been transferred when they used the online DMV system. This issue occurred for online voter registration and online duplicates and renewals, but not for in-person transactions.

Gannon reported that they have completed their demographic data update, so we should not expect any more big changes in voter demographic data anytime soon.

Andy Jackson / Director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity | John Locke Foundation