Rowan sees 9 percent turnout in Tuesday’s primary

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, June 8, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — With a relatively rare June election on tap, a small number of Rowan County voters turned out to vote in congressional primaries and a North Carolina Supreme Court race.

About 9 percent of Rowan County voters turned out to vote in Tuesday’s election, which involved the 13th Congressional District, 8th Congressional District and NC Supreme Court races for Rowan voters. The 9 percent turnout rate meant 8,235 Rowan County voters cast ballots.

About 3,500 Rowan County voters cast ballots in the 8th Congressional District GOP primary, about 2,900 Rowan County voters cast ballots in the 13th District GOP primary and just over 1,100 Rowan County voters participated in the 13th District Democratic Party primary.

When asked Tuesday, a number of people in downtown Salisbury said they weren’t aware an election was occurring. Some who participated in the primary, however, questioned how that was possible.

“How do you not know, especially in this primary?” Smith-Steinberg said, citing news coverage and roadside signs. “When people don’t vote, I really get upset. It’s your duty to vote.”

Sisters and college students Elizabeth and Sophia Smith voted Tuesday at Isenberg Elementary School. The sisters said roadside signs were the reason they knew an election was occurring Tuesday. Before casting ballots, Elizabeth Smith said she and her sister did a bit of research on the eve of the election.

Elizabeth Smith said voters should participate in all elections, not just ones that include a presidential race.

Despite the lackluster local turnout, Rowan County’s rate was better than the state, which saw a 7.68 percent turnout.

In the 13th Congressional District, Davie County took home the honor of turning out the largest share of registered voters. About 19 percent of registered Davie County voters cast ballots.

Rowan County also didn’t take home the honor for highest turnout in the 8th Congressional District, but it also wasn’t the worst.

As voting took place on Tuesday, precinct judges commented that turnout was abysmal until the late afternoon. It appeared that a post-work rush helped turnout numbers significantly. Precincts that are normally considered high turnout areas were at the top of the list again in Tuesday’s primary.

When compared to previous elections, the turnout is similar to the 2012 second primary, when 8 percent of Rowan County voters cast ballots. That election featured races that included the 8th Congressional District, lieutenant governor and Rowan County Board of Commissioners.

Congressional primary elections were moved to this month after federal judges declared North Carolina’s congressional map unconstitutional. The judges said the map was racially gerrymandered. State legislators called a special session to draw a new congressional map and set primary elections for June 7 as a result.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.