Voter turnout about 11%
By Lee Barnes
What can you say about an election that only draws about 11 percent of the registered voters?
Well, it could have been worse.
Elections officials had forecast a turnout in the neighborhood of 5 to 7 percent. That estimate was based on the number of people who had cast early ballots, and it’s usually a reliable indicator of overall voting.
Officials were still wringing their hands Tuesday morning, when the turnout started out as bleak as expected. So 11 percent at the proverbial end of the day actually came as a pleasant surprise.
Or maybe it’s in our Tar Heel DNA ó North Carolinians generally rank among the bottom 10 states in the nation in voter turnout.
Eleven percent ó 9,800 out of 89,537 registered voters ówas maybe no more than could be expected in an off-year election with nothing but nonpartisan local races and a quarter-cent property tax increase on the ballot.
Nancy Evans, director of the county’s board of elections, said she was pleased with the surprise ending Tuesday night, but had no real explanation for it.
But it’s still a meager 11 percent, compared with 68 percent this time a year ago.
Tuesday’s totals had County Commissioner Raymond Coltrain singing those old democracy blues.
“Our government is by the people, for the people,” he said. “If the people don’t stay involved, it can’t be by the people.”
The only hot tickets on the ballot this year were the Salisbury City Council, with 13 candidates competing for five seats on the board, and the aforementioned proposed countywide sales tax increase of one-fourth of a cent.
In case you don’t have the front page of this newspaper, the tax increase passed.