Between the 2012 and 2014 elections the total number of Early Voting sites operated by North Carolina county boards of elections, statewide, increased modestly: from 363 to 366. But that same period witnessed substantial changes in those sites’ locations. According to Voting Information Project data, 114 sites operating in November 2012 were no longer open in November 2014, replaced by 117 different sites. The impact on the average voter (across all races) was fairly insignificant: an increase from about 3.5 miles in 2012 to 3.6 miles in 2014 — a difference of only about 300 feet (roughly one city block).
But a look at the aggregate impacts by race reveals a startlingly different picture (Figure 1, below). While the averagewhite voter’s distance to his or her nearest Early Voting site increased by just 26 feet in 2014, the average black voter’s distance increased by a quarter of a mile. Summing that up over the members of each race, that’s an aggregate increase in distance-to-poll of just 21,000 miles for white voters (71% of the electorate), but more than 350,000 miles for black voters (22% of the electorate). That latter distance is the equivalent of a trip from the Earth to the Moon, and half way home again.