Wake early voting nearly doubles early turnout in 2009
Posted November 7, 2011
Updated November 8, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — More than 2,000 Wake County voters have already cast their ballots ahead of Tuesday's election, nearly doubling the early voting numbers from two years ago, a Wake County Board of Elections official said Monday.
Director Cherie Poucher said that, as of noon Monday, her office had received 2,058 ballots from one-stop voting sites and absentee voters.
Municipal races in 11 towns and cities in the county are on the ballot, but the most watched race Tuesday is the District 3 school board runoff.
"Anytime we can get people out voting, it makes us very happy, because we want people to exercise their right to vote," Poucher said. "We pretty much knew, because of the media coverage in District 3, that this was going to be one of the contests that brought voters out."
Incumbent Kevin Hill, a Democrat, finished first in the four-person race on Oct. 11 with 49.69 percent of the votes but was 51 votes shy of securing an outright victory.
His Republican challenger, Heather Losurdo, who received 39.88 percent of the votes, requested the runoff, which is allowed under state law since Hill did not receive the 50 percent of votes, plus one, he needed to secure a win.
Of the ballots already cast, Poucher said, 1,225 were for the school board race.
"That's been our heavy one," she said.
Of those ballots, 635 were from registered Democrats, 317 from Republicans, 270 from unaffiliated voters and three from Libertarians. Who those votes were cast for, however, won't be known until Tuesday evening, Poucher said.
In the November 2009 election, 1,131 early ballots were cast.
It, too, involved a school board runoff race involving John Tedesco, who won the District 2 seat against Cathy Truitt with 75 percent of the vote.
"It will be interesting to see how many people come out. If we have roughly the same number of people, it's Hill's to lose," said Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University. "It could well be that we might see a runoff that has more interest than the initial contest."
School board races are usually quiet, drawing little attention, but this year's race for five seats on what's supposed to be a nonpartisan school board has been anything but low-key, Taylor said, and appeared to drive turnout for the October, which is generally low in off-years elections.
According to the Wake County Board of Elections, voter turnout was 21.16 percent this year – more than double the turnout in 2009.
The Hill-Losurdo race has been viewed by many as a defining win for the future of the board and the school system.
Democratic-backed candidates won four other seats in the school board race. Whoever wins the District 3 race will decide the board majority.
If Hill wins, Democrats will gain control of the board from the Republican bloc, elected in 2009, which worked to overturn the school system's student assignment policy of busing students for diversity.
Supporters of the new policy – aimed at putting students in schools closer to where they live – have said that they fear that a Democrat-controlled school board would try to overturn the assignment policy and undo other work from the past two years.
Other Wake races on Tuesday's ballot include a number of mayoral races:
- In Apex, challenger Bryan Gossage is running against incumbent Mayor Keith Weatherly.
- In Fuquay-Varina, Mayor John W. Byrne is seeking another term against Michael Dorman.
- Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen is also seeking another term, running against Jun Lee.
- In Wendell, Mayor Harold Broadwell is running against Timothy Hinnant.
- Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams and Rolesville Mayor C. Frank Eagles are both running unopposed.
Elsewhere in the Triangle and central North Carolina, Durham Mayor Bill Bell is seeking a seventh term against Rev. Sylvester Williams.
Voters in Durham County must also decide on a proposed half-cent local sales tax designed to fund a regional transit system in the Triangle, while voters in Durham and Orange counties will consider a quarter-cent local sales tax for education.
In Fayetteville, Tony Chavonne is seeking his third term as mayor against challenger Nat Robertson.