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Rowan residents could break voting records today

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
Rowan voters, who have already set a record for early voting, are expected to break records for primary voting today.
Fueled by the red-hot presidential contest between Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, Democrats are expected to turn out in record numbers in Rowan and across the state.
Nancy Evans, county elections director, is predicting overall turnout in percentages ranging from the high 30s to low 40s.
“The state is estimating the biggest turnout ever. That’s what we are planning for,” Evans, said Monday.
The polls opened at 6:30 this morning and will close at 7:30 p.m. Anyone in line at 7:30 p.m. will be allowed to vote prior to the precinct closing.
A total of 4,388 voters cast ballots in the one-stop early voting. Most of those, 2,654, were Democrats. That’s nearly 8.5 percent of the county’s 31,357 registered Democrats.
Republicans turned out in much smaller numbers ó 1,032, or less than 3 percent of the county’s 36,388 registered Republicans.
Unaffiliated early voters totaled 702, or just under 4 percent of the 17,893 registered in Rowan.
The county’s total voter registration stands at 85,638.
Evans noted that with the varying dates of primaries in recent years, it’s hard to compare numbers. Court challenges moved the 2004 primary to July.
The biggest race on the local scene ó in terms of numbers ó is the contest for two seats on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
Eight Republicans and five Democrats are seeking a spot on the November ballot.
With a large field of candidates on state and some local ballots, election officials say it is unlikely that any candidates would get enough votes to force a second primary. If necessary, however, that second primary will be held June 24.
Today’s elections will feature paper ballots at all precincts.
Evans wouldn’t say how many ballots have been printed, but said there is no chance the county will run out.
Votes will be displayed on the county Web site and on the second floor of the Cohen Administration Building at 130 W. Innes St., where candidates and their supporters typically gather.
Election staffers will take advantage of the new 16-foot screen in the county commissioners’ meeting room, displaying vote totals there instead of the relatively small screen TVs used in the past.
Another feature that officials hope will work is a display that will show which precincts have reported and which ones are still outstanding.
That information will be shown at the end of each updated vote total on both the county Web site and the display at the Cohen Administration Building.
The first vote totals ó absentee ballots ó will be displayed shortly after the polls close at 7:30 p.m.
The first precincts should report in by 8 p.m.
Evans is hopeful that results from the last precincts will be in by 10:30 p.m.
Voters in the Cleveland and Mount Ulla precincts will be voting at new locations.
The Mount Ulla precinct moved from Mount Ulla Elementary School to the Mount Ulla Fire Department on Grampian Road.
The Cleveland precinct moved from Cleveland Elementary School to the new town hall.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or jburchette@salisburypost.com.

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