Presidential race inspires large Democratic turnout
By Elizabeth Cook
Just as election officials predicted, Rowan County Democrats appeared to be swarming the polls in Tuesday’s primaries, while Republican turnout was low key.
People stood in line to take a turn at one of the 12 voting booths at the Park Avenue Community Center around 2 p.m. The East Ward precinct that votes there appeared to be heavily Democratic and racially diverse. And the stream of voters coming in the door was steady.
“I’ve not seen it so busy before,” said voter Dr. Albert Aymer, president of Hood Theological Seminary. “This is a good sign.”
By the end of the day, 27.83 percent of East Ward’s 2,699 voters had cast ballots.
Aymer voted for Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary “because I think she stands a better chance of winning the general election,” he said, adding that he had nothing against Barack Obama.
The presidential race inspired 17-year-old Keenen Graves to register and vote in the primary. He was eligible because he will turn 18 on Sept. 20 ó before the November general election.
Graves voted for Obama.
“I like the fact he says he’s going to change a lot of things,” Graves said.
Here are comments from a handful of East Ward voters on their presidential choices:
Albert Brown, 79: “Obama, because we need a change, I guess. I hope everything will be all right.”
Sam Collins, 80: “Hillary Clinton. I thought a lot of her husband, and I’m a lifelong Democrat. … My first vote was for Truman.”
Doris Cline, 78: “Hillary. I like her views. I’m hoping for the best. … I think a woman can do as good a job as a man.”
Hazel Faggart, 81: “Obama. I’ll give him a chance. We ain’t never had a chance for nothing.”
Ebony Cassell, 31: “Barack Obama. I like some of the things he said he was going to do.”
Meanwhile, poll workers at East Rowan High School, the polling place for the largely white, Republican Gold Knob precinct, were seeing a light turnout.
“It’s kind of slow,” said Cecil Fisher, chief judge. That could have been because of the presidential race, he said. John McCain has the Republican nomination wrapped up. Also, Fisher said, about 100 voters from his precinct took advantage of early voting before Tuesday’s primary, which might have affected Gold Knob’s turnout.
The five voting booths were seeing a trickle of voters. But what they lacked in numbers, they may have made up for in determination.
Sherry Kesler, 45, had powerful motivation to vote for John McCain. “We think he’s the one that’s going to lead us the way God would,” she said. “If people don’t get back to God, America’s going to go down quick.”
Rita Hiatt, 54, echoed her friend. “I think he (McCain) is God’s man, I really do. I think he’ll bring some of God’s values back to government.”
Ruby Calder, 73, voted for Mike Huckabee in the GOP presidential race and said she was surprised to see his name on the ballot since he has withdrawn. She was most interested, she said, in the gubernatorial race, where she supported Bill Graham of Salisbury.
Some 21.86 percent of Gold Knob’s 1,546 voters cast ballots Tuesday, according to the Board of Elections Web site.