Democracy North Carolina says 2008 was the Year of the Voter.
In a year-end recap, the nonpartisan voting rights group says high interest in the Democratic primary and the November elections made this "a banner for voter participation."
A few of the numbers it cites:
VOTER TURNOUT: North Carolina led the nation as the state with the biggest increase in voter turnout over 2004. A record 4.35 million Tar Heels cast ballots in the general election, a big jump over the 3.55 million in 2004 and a 70 percent turnout of 6.2 million registered voters, compared to the 64% turnout in 2004.
EARLY VOTING: A record 2.4 million people voted at 368 Early Voting sites across the state. That's more than double the number who voted at the 250 sites opened in the 2004 general election. Another 228,000 voted absentee by mail, bringing the total number of early voters to 2.64 million, or 61 percent of all voters.
SAME-DAY VOTING: During 2008, just over 49,000 used Same Day Registration to participate in the primary and another 188,000 used it during the general election. About half of them were first-time voters in the county, while the other half used the new law to update an old registration.
BLACK VOTERS: More than one million African Americans voted in North Carolina in 2008. In 2004, only 59 percent of registered black voters turned out compared to 66 percent of registered whites. But in 2008, a record 74 percent voted, surpassing the rate of whites (69 percent) for the first time.
PUBLIC FINANCING: Eleven of the 12 candidates in contested races for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals qualified for public financing, as did nine of the 11 candidates in the primary and four of the six candidates in the general for auditor, insurance commissioner and schools superintendent.
Still, the group saw room for improvement in voter involvement.
"One third of the voting-age citizens didn't vote in 2008, so we have plenty of room for improvement, but this year showed the way toward moving North Carolina closer to a government of, for, and by the people," said Director Bob Hall.