If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly asking rhetorical questions to nobody about the city in which we live.
Who is actually moving to Charlotte?
What are the most bicycle friendly areas of Charlotte?
Where do the hundreds of people moving to Charlotte every day work?
Fortunately for us, the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg Country actually have a great resource to provide insights into these exact questions using the city’s own data.
Dubbed the “Charlotte-Mecklenburg Quality of Life Explorer” the dashboard is an interactive online tool that is easy to use and puts a ton of data at your fingertips.
It was designed to “help neighborhoods, government leaders and staff, businesses, community organizations, new residents and others learn more about our county and the diverse neighborhoods within it.”
Using the Quality of Life Explorer, you can view Voter Participation data from around the county.
Each neighborhood is divided into a Neighborhood Profile Area or NPA. Zoom in and click on an NPA and you can see the turnout rate for that neighborhood.
The answer to the question “who votes in Mecklenburg County” is a bit tricky, because the only real way to answer that is “depends on what year it is.”
For example, here is the map of 2015 Voter turnout. Seems ok until you realize that the darkest green parts represent around 43% voter turnout. That’s pretty awful.
Overall in the 2015 election, only 94,235 people out of roughly 532,000 (17.7%) voters actually exercised their civic duty.
That’s pretty bad.
But let’s take a look at the last Presidential election back in 2012. Believe it or not, this is the same scale and color scheme as the 2015 map. The reason it is dark blue is because so many more people voted.
Compared to the meager 17.7% voter turnout in 2015, voter participation in Mecklenburg County in 2012 was 78.8% or roughly 434,000 of 531,00 people.
That’s pretty good, especially relative to the state of North Carolina which had 68% voter participation in 2012.
The one thing you can’t ignore about these two maps is that while there was high voter turnout in 2012 in nearly every Neighborhood Profile Area (hence the dark blue), the turnout in 2015 was very highly concentrated in “the wedge” of charlotte south of the city.
This means that only a handful of Charlotte neighborhoods choose the Mayor and City Council.
Civic engagement is the bedrock of our great country and it’s important to educate yourself on the issues and candidates and go vote. If you’re at all frustrated with the current state of things in Charlotte, voting is your opportunity to make a change. It’s literally the least you can do. Go vote.
The Quality of Life Explorer is awesome, and you owe it to yourself to poke around and learn a little something about your city. D.R.E.A.M (Data Rules Everything Around Me).