Highest number of voters recorded Tuesday for a midterm election

Published 11:23 am Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thousands of people flocked to the polling locations Tuesday to select the newest national, state and local leaders.

Rowan County’s voter turnout percentage was the highest in a midterm election since 2002, when 44.78 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. Tuesday’s general election turnout was the highest ever for midterm election in the Rowan County Board of Election’s recorded history. General elections in presidential years frequently top the total turnout from the 2014 race.

Rowan County has 92,375 registered voters and 39,224 showed up to vote — 13,705 of which voted in person during early voting.

Voters rose with the sun to take advantage of the right to vote and voting was steady at many precincts throughout the day, while others saw period of activity and other period with little to none.

Tina Kelly cast her ballot in Cleveland, where she lives. She said there were no races in particular that drew her to the polls after work, she came “just to participate in my right to vote.”

“I’m not really into politics, but I do have that right to vote, and I always come out to vote,” she said.

Geoff Siege, who voted in China Grove, said voting was an easy process.

“It was about normal,” Siege said. “I was most worried about the race between Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan. There was so much negative campaigning and it was a really hard decision.”

Rick Pinyan, who voted at the Bostian Heights Fire Department, said he was most interested in the U.S. Senate race. Like Siege, Pinyan said he was tired of negative advertisements associated with the race.

“There’s a lot of bashing going on both ways,” Pinyan said. “I’d rather hear what they’re gonna do rather than what the other person didn’t do. Be proud of what you do and don’t bash the other person.”

At nearly every polling place voters were met near the entrance by pool workers handing out campaign fliers. Many of the fliers were simply for a single candidate. Though, in the school board race, Phil Hardin, Dean Hunter and Travis Allen teamed up on a flier paid for by all three’s campaign committees. Three of the incumbent school board members also teamed up for a flier.

One significant change was in voting law caused a bit of confusion for some voters. A law passed by the N.C. General Assembly, in part, made provisional ballots illegal.

Several voters weren’t sent to other precincts after showing up at an incorrect polling place. Elections specialist Laura Russell said some of the confusion may have been by the locations used by early voting.

Judith Shepherd was among those told they weren’t at the right polling place. Shepherd lives in Salisbury, but said she’s always voted in Cleveland with her sisters. This year, she was turned away because of new restrictions in North Carolina voting laws.

The new laws prohibit out-of-precinct voting. In October, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that reinstated the practice. Elections workers told Shepherd she’d need to go to her home precinct on Sherrill’s Ford Road.

“I am doing my duty, and it’s tough,” said Shepherd, who was using a walker because she has three broken bones in her ankle.

But according to elections specialist Laura Russell not all provisional ballots are outlawed by the recently passed law. In fact, Russell said 160 provisional ballots have yet to be counted.

She explained that there’s five different reasons people could vote with a provisional ballot. Russell said two of the reasons are no record of registration or a list maintenance removal by the state or local board of elections. voting at a different polling place for convenience is not allowed, Russell said.

The Rowan County Board of elections has the ultimate authority over whether a provisional ballots counts or not.

But the provisional ballots aren’t all that’s left. Elections Director Nancy Evans estimated more than 200 absentee could be left to count.