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Decision day is Tuesday: Time to vote

Rowan County’s future will be decided Tuesday.

Tuesday, Nov. 4, is Election Day, with more than a dozen local and state elected positions being decided.

Some of the most contentious local races include three seats on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners and three contested seats on the Rowan-Salisbury School Board.

Both of Rowan’s state Senate seats — districts 25 and 34 — are up for grabs. All three of Rowan’s congressional seats — districts 5, 8 and 12 — are also on the ballot.

The biggest race of all, certainly in terms of money spent, is North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race.

As of Friday afternoon, about 12,000 people in Rowan had voted during one-stop early voting, and 643 absentee ballots had been mailed, according to the Rowan County Board of Elections. The numbers equal about 14 percent of Rowan County’s registered voter population.

During the last midterm election in 2010, slightly more than 40 percent of registered voters turned out. This year, both Elections Director Nancy Evans and Catawba political science professor Dr. Michael Bitzer said turnout could be slightly higher.

Bitzer said important local races could boost turnout in Rowan, but the U.S. Senate race could boost voter turnout statewide.

“I would not be surprised if turnout is higher in this county because of both the school board and county commission races,” Bitzer said. “In the year 2010, we had kind of a lackluster U.S Senate race. I think this (U.S. Senate) race is generating the interest and energy that we have not traditionally seen.”

On Friday, Evans said that one-stop early voting could result in 13,000 to 14,000 total ballots cast by the end of early voting on Saturday.

She said voter turnout would likely be in the low- to mid-40th percentile in Rowan County.

One important consideration, Evans said, is that each voter must appear at his or her own polling place on Tuesday and could not cast provisional ballots.

A complete list of the 45 polling places is on the Board of Elections’ website (and on Page 4A of today’s Post). Evans said voters could call the Rowan County Board of Elections if they had any problems finding the correct polling places.

With election season nearing an end, Bitzer talked about a few important factors in both the U.S. Senate and the county commissioner race.

“The needle has not moved,” Bitzer said about the U.S. Senate race. “We are going into it as a virtual coin toss. The second thing about the U.S. Senate race is the $100 million plus. If you’re spending that kind of money and the needle truly does not move, what does that tell us about the state?”

Bitzer said the over $100 million spent in the Senate race means that North Carolina may be more of a polarized electorate than before, meaning that voters are locking into their preferences.

At the local level, Bitzer said the most significant factor is the three unaffiliated commissioner candidates. Bitzer said the three could conceivably draw votes from both Republicans and Democrats.

“It’s just one of those things you can’t really predict,” he said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

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