Local News

Turnout steady, slow for Tuesday primaries

Posted May 4, 2010

— North Carolinians turned out in slow but steady numbers Tuesday to vote in primaries that buck the state's normal trend of uncontested campaigns and feature a tight race among Democrats running for the U.S. Senate.

"This is the time for voters to select: Who do I want in that particular party and that particular contest to be on the ballot in November?" Wake County Board of Elections director Cherie Poucher said.

On Tuesday afternoon, State Board of Elections Executive Diretcor Gary Bartlett projected turnout to be at or below 2006 levels, when only 12 percent of voters cast a primary ballot. Unlike Tuesday primary, that election didn't feature a U.S. Senate race.

"We're open for business," Bartlett said, hoping that more voters would turn out before polls close at 7:30 p.m.

Early voting was extremely high in Wake County, Poucher said, so she's hoping for a good overall turnout.

More than 7,000 Wake County people voted early, compared to 700 in 2006, the most recent off-year election without a presidential or gubernatorial race.

About 170,000 voters cast ballots in early voting statewide, Bartlett said.

Find out who's running in your district

Ken Lewis - primary Candidates cast their ballots in primaries

Front running Democratic Senatorial candidates Cal Cunningham, Ken Lewis and Elaine Marshall cast their ballots early Tuesday.

In an April 26 poll by WRAL News, Marshall, North Carolina's secretary of state, drew 23 percent support; Cunningham, a former state senator, had 19 percent; and Lewis, a Durham lawyer, had 10 percent. The three other Democrats fighting to challenge Republican Sen. Richard Burr in November polled in the single digits. Thirty-four percent of voters were undecided.

Burr was polling 59 percent support, and none of his three opponents had more than 6 percent. A quarter of voters were undecided.

To avoid a runoff, a candidate must garner at least 40 percent of the vote in a primary.

Get profiles of all Senate candidates, and hear from them in their own words.

There are 81 contested House and Senate primaries, a nearly 60 percent jump compared to the 51 recorded in both 2006 and 2008. The GOP has contributed the most to the increase with 27 contested House races and 20 in the Senate. Two years ago, there were only 22 contested Republican primaries.

The number of contested Democratic legislative primaries rose slightly, to 34 from 29 in 2008.

The increase in contested GOP candidates appears to be an outgrowth in voter unhappiness about Washington that has brought a record number of primary candidates to congressional races this year and forged the tea party movement.

"I think I've got just a good a chance as any," said first-time candidate and high school teacher Lauren Raper, of Spencer, 27, who is fighting with Harry Warren for the right to challenge Democratic Rep. Lorene Coates, D-Rowan. "Sometimes you need to stretch your neck and get out of your comfort zone."

The increase in contested Democratic primaries is likely the result of eight Democratic senators either deciding not to run for re-election or resigning late last year. For example, five Democrats are seeking the seat held by Sen. Larry Shaw, D-Cumberland, who isn't running.

Third-term Rep. Winkie Wilkins, D-Person, faces two Durham County challengers, including retired DMV employee Fred Foster Jr.

Rep. Rosa Gill, D-Wake, appointed last year to fill the seat of former House Speaker Dan Blue, also has two challengers, and first-term Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, has gotten a tough fight from former Knightdale Mayor Jeanne Bonds.

Former Rep. Mary McAllister is challenging Rep. Elmer Floyd, D-Cumberland, who beat her two years ago. Rep. Edith Warren, D-Pitt, is being challenged by former Greenville city council member Mildred Council.

In the Senate, former House Co-Speaker Richard Morgan has mounted a challenge to Sen. Harris Blake, R-Moore. Morgan lost his House seat in the 2006 primary. 

Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe, co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is again in a three-way primary. Recently appointed Sen. Michael Walters, D-Robeson, is being challenged by Benjamin Clark, who lost to Walters' predecessor David Weinstein in 2006 and 2008.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • JoCoLoco May 4, 2010

    I was voter 221 in my precinct @ about 4:30.

  • lovelarvae May 4, 2010

    Road_Guy says: "If someone is stupid enough to think that they vote on Nov 3 then they are too stupid to be voting and we will be better off with out their input."

    ncguy71 says: "If people are stupid enough to believe that Republicans vote one day and Democrats vote another day - then they do not need to be voting at all."


    It's one thing to be 'dumb' enough not to know the real voting day, it's even worse to be the cynical person trying to deceive these people for political advantage.

    But if we're going to start using civil 'literacy tests' to decide who's too dumb to vote, I'd propose considering anybody who voted for Bush in 2004, or actually thought that McCain was putting "Country First" when he picked Palin as his running mate.

  • PanthersFan45 May 4, 2010

    I usually vote in every primary, run-off, major election that comes along here, but as far as today goes, I simply didn't care. Too many recorded messages over the last few days was a big part of it ...... not to mention a lack of interest in what the outcome will be. After what the straight party ticket voters did to this state a couple years ago, I have little faith if it even matters, it's simply a liberal bastion here. I've accepted it and moved on. Just my 2 cents.

  • ncguy71 May 4, 2010

    Another thing - I think that campaigning near polling places should be outlawed.

    I am so tired of seeing filled in sample ballots being handed out and people walking right into the booth and copying what was given to them.

    If you do not know who/what you are voting for, please stay at home and do not vote.

  • RedStatesManWatts May 4, 2010

    mtnmama- Great job! If only everyone else thought like you do then this nation would be much better off than our current debacle and downfall.

  • Road_Guy May 4, 2010

    lovelarvae says:
    Of course everyone votes on Nov 2. Typical right-wing dirty tricks trying disenfranchise the dem voters. I know you were probably joking, but this kind of disinformation is deliberately sent out by the republican party to unsuspecting people all the time, and doesn't need you making things worse.


    This was most certainly a joke. Whats not a joke is how many people out no effort into doing any research about who they are voting for. If someone is stupid enough to think that they vote on Nov 3 then they are too stupid to be voting and we will be better off with out their input.

  • mtnmama May 4, 2010

    Before I vote, I will see who voted Y to HR 2499 to invite Puerto Rico to become the 51st state giving them SIX seats, who voted N for Unemployment extension, and who voted N to make English our 1st language. Then I'll vote accordingly. Hint--Burr & a bunch of others (Price, Etheridge) will not get my vote.

  • rescuefan May 4, 2010

    I voted on my lunch hour.

  • working for deadbeats May 4, 2010

    I voted about 15 minutes ago. Polls are open until 7:30pm folks. Go vote! (for republican) lol

  • ncguy71 May 4, 2010

    "Pleasae go vote-but more important-KNOW WHO you are voting for!"

    AMEN!! Well said!!

    If you have not done your own research and you do not know who or what you are voting for - please do us all a favor and please stay at home and please do not vote.