RALEIGH – The first two days of early voting in North Carolina drew a record number of voters to the polls, beating the 2004 early voter turnout by more than 40 percent.

On Oct. 16 and Oct. 17, a total of more than 200,000 voters turned out to cast their ballots. In Charlotte, more than 10,000 turned out on Thursday and another 7,000 on Friday.

“We blew it away,” Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett told McClatchy Newspapers Friday.

He encouraged voters to take advantage of early voting. “If not, it will be a long day on Election Day,” he said.

Early voting ends Nov. 1. The general election will be held on Nov. 4.

Of the more than 113,000 early voters on Thursday, 64 percent were registered Democrats, 21 percent Republicans and 15 percent unaffiliated voters. African-American voters — who make up only 22 percent of registered voters statewide — accounted for 36 percent of Thursday’s ballots.

Both Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ) are scheduled to make more stops in North Carolina as the election nears. Only two weeks are left before voters head to the polls on Nov. 4.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.