North Carolina voters hit the polls earlier than ever - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

North Carolina voters hit the polls earlier than ever

North Carolina is one of the states having a presidential primary on Tuesday. (Source: CNN) North Carolina is one of the states having a presidential primary on Tuesday. (Source: CNN)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - North Carolina voters are heading to the polls months earlier in the 2016 presidential primaries.

Drew Kurlowski, an assistant professor of politics at Coastal Carolina University, said the state's primary moved up from May to March. Before, North Carolina voters would often cast ballots after a candidate had already claimed victory.

“Now that they've gone earlier, and these primaries have really taken a long time, the fact that the Republicans have not sort of wrapped this up, the fact that Sanders is still nipping at Hillary's heels, mean's there's still a competitive primary for these voters to vote in,” Kurlowski explained.  

Another aspect making it more of a competitive primary are the delegates up for grabs in North Carolina.

“The other thing is that they are getting a little bit more delegate support in terms of the Republican primary because of having additional Republican leaders in office, the Republican Party has rewarded the state more delegates,” Kurlowski said.

There are 122 delegates for Democrats and 77 for Republicans. Kurlowski said every candidate could walk away with a percentage.  

“One of the things that's going to happen tonight is everyone is going to take home delegates. Unlike other states we've seen on Super Tuesday one and two, tonight, there are no minimum thresholds," he said. "Even someone who gets 5 percent of the vote in North Carolina will get 5 percent of the delegates,” he said.

However, because of the way delegates are distributed in each party, Kurlowski said looking at it proportionately, there are more delegates at stake for the Republican candidates.

The other changes for voters in North Carolina are the updates to election laws and the forms of ID permitted.

“The problem for that in terms of Sanders is going to be that he gets a lot of his support from younger voters, college students. And out-of-state IDs and student IDs are not acceptable forms of identification for the North Carolina primary. Which means that someone at UNC (University of North Carolina) who is a Bernie supporter needs to make sure they have that North Carolina driver's license if they want to vote for him today," Kurlowski said

Trump is currently polling at 41.3 percent in North Carolina. Behind him are Cruz, Kasich and then Rubio.  Clinton is polling at 57 percent, a more than 20 percent lead over Sanders. 

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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