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Election day today; Republicans lead in early votes

Early voting statistics

Ballots cast during early voting

Republicans 18,842
Democrats 11,589
Unaffiliated 9,820
Libertarian 83

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — It ends today.

After more than a year of the, at times, vicious 2016 election, voters will pick the next local, state and national leaders today. The U.S. presidential race headlines ballots in Rowan County. Immediately below that are races for U.S. Senate, governor, U.S. House and council of state.

Locally, voters will choose two county commissioners and three school board members to serve a four-year term. A portion of Rowan County residents will also vote for a state senator in District 25.

Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

There are 41 polling locations in Rowan County. Voters must show up at their assigned polling location to cast the correct ballot, said Rowan County Elections Director Nancy Evans. However, voters who show up at an incorrect polling location may be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. That provisional ballot, however, may not include all races for the location where the voter lives.

Voters also will not be required to show photo identification in order to cast a ballot today.

Same-day registration will not be allowed today, Evans said. It was only allowed during early voting, which broke records for turnout. A total of 38,233 people cast ballots in Rowan County during the 17-day early voting period, according to the Board of Elections. Turnout during early voting this year ranked higher than 2012 and 2008 for the total number of ballots cast and percentage of registered voters.

Unlike previous years, Evans said the Rowan County Board of Elections will broadcast results in the West End Plaza events center — the former JC Penney building. Evans said results would not be broadcast at the Board of Elections office in West End Plaza.

Local Democrats have planned a watch party at their headquarters on West Innes Street. Republicans will hold an event for the party’s volunteers at Thelma’s Down Home Cooking at West End Plaza.

With early voting and absentee voting combined, more than 40,000 people have cast ballots in Rowan County. Partisan turnout during early voting largely mirrors the county’s total registration, according to the Rowan County Board of Elections.

So far, Republicans represent at least 18,842 of the ballots cast, according to statistics provided by Catawba College politics professor and Provost Michael Bitzer. Democrats have cast 11,589 ballots. Unaffiliated voters have cast 9,820 ballots. Libertarians sit in fourth with 83 ballots cast.

Evans said early voting statistics may change by the time election results are finalized. The Board of Elections still has to process a large amount of same-day registrations, which she has estimated may number 1,000 or more.

Early voting numbers provided by Bitzer show Republicans significantly outperforming early voting turnouts in 2008 and 2012. Unaffiliated voters are outperforming past years, too. Democrats are underperforming.

Compared to 2012, for example, Republicans have cast 5,067 more ballots during early voting. Unaffiliated voters are up 3,573 ballots. When compared to past elections, however, there are also a few thousand more people who are registered as unaffiliated. Democrats are down 906 ballots.

At every early voting location except the Rowan Public Library Headquarters in Salisbury, Republicans represent a larger portion than Democrats of ballots cast.

For questions about voting, contact the Rowan County Board of elections at 704-216-8140

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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