Rowan officials prepared for largest voter turnout ever

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 4, 2008

By Jessie Burchette
Election officials are prepared today for the largest voter turnout in the county’s history.
Nancy Evans, elections director, expects between 70 and 72 percent of the county’s registered voters to cast ballots.
While the county has had better than 70 percent turnout in past general elections, the actual numbers will be far greater.
For example, in 1980, when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter, 74 percent, or 32,000, of the county’s registered voters cast ballots.
By contrast, the 2000 contest between Al Gore and George W. Bush drew one of the lowest turnouts locally ó 54.5 percent, or 45,000 voters.
As of midday Monday, a total of 34,837 votes had already been cast through one-stop and mail-in absentee balloting.
That’s 38.7 percent of the county’s 90,000 registered voters.
A total of 31,596 voters cast ballots at the one-stop sites. Of that number, 13,494 were registered Democrats, 12,772 were Republicans; 5,325 were unaffiliated; and five belonged to the Libertarian Party.
In addition to one-stop voting, the Rowan County Board of Elections mailed out more than 4,200 mail-in absentee ballots ó 4,036 to civilians, 131 to voters serving in the military, and 43 to non-military voters overseas.
As of midday Monday, a total of 3,241 mail-in absentees had been received and approved by the Board of Elections. The board has held several meetings over the past couple of weeks to approve ballots.
The board met again Monday afternoon and will meet at 2 p.m. today to consider the final ballots received by 5 p.m. today ó the deadline for receipt of absentee ballots.
Other election information:
– Vote tallies will be posted on the Rowan County Web site tonight and will also be displayed in the commissioners’ meeting room of the Cohen Administration Building at 130 W. Innes St.
– All precinct totals are expected to be in between 11 p.m. and midnight. The timing may depend on how many people are in line when the polls close.
– Polls will close at 7:30 p.m. today. Anyone in line when the polls close will be allowed to vote.
– The candidate for Rowan County Board of Commissioners who has been a no-show at campaign events has voted.
Laura R. Lyerly, a Democratic candidate, voted Thursday at the Elections Office in the Cohen Administration Building. The 29-year-old Lyerly virtually disappeared after winning a spot on the ballot in the May 6 primary.
Other candidates for the Board of Commissioners, Democrat Raymond Coltrain and Republicans Jim Sides and Carl Ford, also voted early. Sides was the first person in line to vote when early voting started.
– Voters must mark the ballot for the vote to count. Several early voters failed to black in the bubble adjacent to the candidate’s name. Some were first-time voters, and others apparently didn’t understand the process.
– Due to expected large turnout, each precinct will have two additional workers.
– The county pays the cost of holding the election in Rowan, and this is expected to be the most expensive ever. A grant of $40,000 to pay for equipment and personnel for one-stop voting will help offset the cost.