Interest High in Election
If early voting is any indication of mid-term election interest, then the turnout should be a big one come Tuesday, the official Election Day.
As of Thursday night, 5,277 voters had cast ballots the one-stop absentee way. That leaves about 55,000 other registrants eligible to visit the 25 polling places Tuesday, when the polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
“It is astounding, truly astounding,” said Glenda Clendenin, Moore County director of elections, when asked about the early voting totals.
Although the one-stop voting totals are much lower than those of 2008, they remain considerably higher than the turnout in 2006, also a midterm election. Voter interest peaks in presidential election years and tends to wane for elections in between.
In 2008, turnout soared to record heights because of enthusiasm generated by the Obama for president campaign.
The one-stop totals do not include almost 700 absentee ballots already returned by mail and another 400 mailed to military personnel overseas and not yet returned. This is the traditional absentee voting method.
One-stop, a form of absentee voting, participation was so heavy this season that the Moore County Board of Elections on Wednesday authorized extended hours at the polling place in the Agriculture Center in Carthage. The polls opened an hour earlier in the morning and remained open an hour longer in the afternoon on Thursday and Friday. Clendenin said that staffing was also beefed up at the Ag Center polling place.
Otherwise, voters will find few changes when they visit their polling places Tuesday.
One polling place change has been made. The North Southern Pines precinct polling place has been moved to the new police station on West Pennsylvania Avenue, next door to the fire station, where voting formerly was carried out.
This is a permanent change and a good one, Clendenin said, because of safety and parking considerations. Voting will take place in the community room at the police station.
“It is a beautiful room, and our precinct workers will be very happy there,” she said. “The Southern Pines Police Department has been accommodating and has been very helpful.”
One change is administrative in the sense that it is a pilot program for a computer system to check registration records. This test will be conducted only in Robbins, East Aberdeen and Pinehurst B1 precincts on Tuesday.
Clendenin said poll workers will use computers to check registration rather than flipping through pages of registration books each time a voter reports for a ballot. Paper records are still maintained, but the State Board of Elections has authorized the test to determine its efficacy in moving the voting process ahead.
“The voter won’t notice any difference, but the process will be quicker,” Clendenin said of the pilot program.
Except for the instant runoff voting in one Court of Appeals judgeship, voting should be relatively simple on Tuesday.
Few Contested Races
The Moore County ballot has a limited number of contested races, notably the District 5 seat on the county Board of Commissioners, in which incumbent Republican Jimmy D. Melton faces Democratic challenger William S. Garner. The other local contested races are nonpartisan, — the board of education and the conservation board.
Statewide, the key race is the three-way contest for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Richard Burr. His opponents are Democrat Elaine Marshall, currently serving as N.C. secretary of state, and Libertarian Michael Beitler.
Closer home, there is a contest between incumbent Howard Coble, a Republican, and Democrat Sam Turner, for the 6th District seat in the U.S. Congress.
State Rep. Jamie Boles, a Republican, is unopposed for the District 52 seat in the N.C. House of Representatives. This district covers most of Moore County.
For the District 54 seat in the state House, incumbent Rep. Joe Hackney of Chapel Hill, a Democrat, has opposition from Republican Cathy Wright. This district includes one and a half precincts in Moore County. State Sen. Harris Blake, a Pinehurst Republican, is also unopposed.
Likewise unopposed are incumbents Sheriff Lane Carter, Register of Deeds Judy D. Martin, Clerk of Superior Court Susan A. Hicks, and County Commissioner Larry Caddell, all Republicans. Also without opposition is Republican Craig Kennedy, who defeated incumbent Commissioner Cindy Morgan in the May primary election.
Six candidates survived the May primary for three at-large seats on the nonpartisan Moore County Board of Education. They are Susan McKenzie “Sue” Black, Ed Dennison, J. Dale Frye, Enola G. Lineberger, Pam Thompson and Karen M. Wicker. For the District 3 Board of Education seat the race is between Charles R. Lambert and Johnnie J. McNeill.
Also nonpartisan is the Soil and Water Conservation Board of Supervisors election. Seeking these two seats are John W. Carter, Michael D. Florence, John L. McDonald and Scott Emerson Sheffield. The winners will succeed Albert Troutman and Larry Holder, who did not seek reelection.
The Tuesday ballot contains one referendum question, a constitutional amendment that would prohibit anyone convicted of a felony from serving as sheriff. All registrants are eligible to vote on the amendment.
The major complication Tuesday is the instant runoff election for one seat on the state Court of Appeals.
Thirteen candidates are running for this seat, vacated in late summer when former Appeals Court Judge James Wynn was appointed to a federal district court judgeship.
This is the first time the state has applied the instant runoff option, and its execution is puzzling to many voters. It is simply a method of allowing voters to choose second and third choices in the event that their first choice is not elected in the initial balloting. Instant runoff enables election officials to tabulate second and third choices to determine the candidate with sufficient numbers to win. It will avoid an expensive runoff election, something that rarely attracts many voters.
Voters will find three identical columns, each containing the names of all 13 candidates. They will be asked to mark their first choice in the column at left, their second choice in the middle column and third choice in the right column.
Voters who wish to vote a straight party ticket may mark an oval beside the party of choice, Democratic, Republican or Libertarian, but must vote separately on all nonpartisan races and on the constitutional amendment.
Places for write-in votes are available for U.S. Senate and the nonpartisan races for school board and conservation board. No write-in candidates were certified for other races and thus no space is left on the ballot for these names.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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