Elect 2012: Many voted early, but turnout is steady
By Mark Wineka
SALISBURY — Before the polls even opened at 6:30 a.m. today for the primary elections, more than 6.5 percent of Rowan County’s registered voters has taken advantage of the chance to cast their ballots early.
That early voting ended Saturday.
Rowan County Elections Director Nancy Evans reports that 5,957 people voted early, heading into today’s primary.
Of the early-voting total, 3,119 were registered Republicans, 1,675 Democrats and 1,156 unaffiliated.
Rowan County has 90,783 total registered voters.
As today’s voting moved into and past the lunchtime hour, turnout was steady. Granite Quarry had an unusually high turnout, fueled most observers believed, by the Amendment One issue. (See the accompanying story.)
“It’s got to be the amendment,” said Republican Rowan County Commissioner candidate Bill Feather, who was spending much of the day outside his hometown polling place.
When Feather was re-elected to the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen last November, the turnout for the town election was only about half of what it was already by noon today, Feather said. The Granite Quarry precinct had voted more than 500 people by lunchtime.
Steve Drake, who owns his own surveying business, was working at the Granite Quarry precinct in support of Amendment One, the proposed constitutional amendment aimed at preventing the state from recognizing gay marriages and civil unions.
Drake said the pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church, where he has been attending, urged the congregation to work for the amendment. Drake was handing out information for the amendment that could be affixed to door handles.
Many voters were confused, Drake said, thinking that a vote for the amendment was a vote in support of gay marriages.
“A lot of interest and a lot of confusion on it, too,” agreed Marny Hendrick, who was working the poll in support of Gus Andrews, a Republican candidate for Rowan County commissioner.
Other noon-time voting totals around Salisbury included 255 at Locke Fire Station on N.C. 150, 201 voters at the South Main Street fire station, 209 (about 10 percent) in Spencer and 313 at the City Park Center in Salisbury, where precinct workers said many on their rolls had voted early.
Rain showers dampened things this afternoon. Polls remain open until 7:30 p.m.
Evans has predicted a 35 to 37 percent turnout in Rowan County.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.