Turnout could come close to 2008
SALISBURY - Based on early voting, a county elections official says turnout for this year's presidential election could rival the last one four years ago.
In 2008, total voter turnout was 61,948, or 68.61 percent of registered voters.
"I really think turnout's going to be pretty close to what it was in 2008," said Elections Director Nancy Evans. "But if it's raining, turnout might not be good on Election Day."
Polls open Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.
According to Accuweather.com, the day's forecast is cloudy with a chance of rain. Evans said it's hard to tell if the weather would keep people from voting or simply bring more of them out Saturday for one-stop early voting.
More than 30,000 people had voted at one-stop sites by the end of the day Friday. That includes more than 11,000 (38 percent) registered Democrats, about 13,000 (43 percent) registered Republicans and nearly 6,000 unaffiliated voters.
Four years ago, about 33,000 people voted early. Evans predicted this year's early voting numbers would be close to that amount once it ended Saturday afternoon.
But Election Day turnout might not follow the same pattern, she said. Both Democrats and Republicans have been encouraging people to vote early, and it's not clear how many of those people would have otherwise voted on Tuesday.
A website called "Carolina Transparency," www.carolinatransparency.com, run by the Civitas Institute features a "Vote Tracker" that breaks down early voting by county, party, gender, age, district and even precinct.
According to that data, through Thursday, voters from the Granite Quarry, Rockwell, Landis and China Grove precincts had cast the most ballots.
At the same time in 2008, the voters most active at one-stop early voting sites were from the precincts of Rockwell, Bradshaw, East Ward and South Locke.
Carolina Transparency also shows a smaller gap in party affiliation in 2008. Four years ago, by the Friday before Election Day, 42 percent of early voters were Republicans and 41 percent were Democrats.
But the numbers Evans gave Friday show Republicans with a five-point turnout advantage over Democrats. She pointed out that they only count the party affiliation of voters themselves, not the candidates they're voting for. People can choose to vote quite differently than their party.
Statewide, 51 percent of people who voted early in 2008 were Democrats and 30 percent were Republicans, according to Carolina Transparency. But on Election Day, Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain by less than one percentage point in North Carolina's presidential race.
In the 2012 general election, Rowan County ballots include:
? President and vice president
? U.S. House of Representatives District 5, 8 or 12
? N.C. Senate District 25 or 34
? N.C. House of Representatives District 76 or 77
? Rowan County Commissioner (two seats)
? Rowan County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor (nonpartisan)
? Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education (three seats, nonpartisan)
? District Court judge for District 19C (nonpartisan)
All ballots in North Carolina also will include these statewide offices:
? Lieutenant governor
? Commissioner of agriculture
? Commissioner of insurance
? Commisisoner of labor
? Secretary of state? Superintendent of public instruction
? Supreme Court associate justice (nonpartisan)
? Court of Appeals judge (three seats, nonpartisan)
For more information, a sample ballot and a list of precincts and polling places, call the Rowan County Board of Elections at 704-216-8140.
You can also visit the website www.rowancountync.gov and click on "Departments."