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Voter turnout for Rowan County breaks no records

By Andie Foley and Shavonne Potts

SALISBURY — Voter turnout in Tuesday’s Rowan County municipal elections increased only slightly over previous years.

In total, 6,260 people voted — representing 15.76 percent of the county’s 39,720 registered voters.

Turnout was less than 2 percent greater than that for 2015’s municipal elections.

Participation has seen a significant drop in the past 30 years. Peak municipal voting was in 1983, when 39 percent of those registered cast ballots.

Voter turnout totals are surprisingly similar between the two elections: 1983’s 6,655 voters exceed this year’s by fewer than 400. But the number of registered voters has increased by 133 percent.

When broken down by precincts and municipalities, turnout varied.

Totals in Cleveland, Rockwell, Kannapolis, China Grove, and Spencer failed to exceed the county average. Cleveland and Rockwell had just 6.35 percent and 7.35 percent turnout, respectively. Spencer had a 15.65 percent turnout.

In Salisbury, turnout by precinct varied widely. Precinct 21, North Locke, saw only 4.55 percent turnout. In Precinct 40, North Ward, 26.56 percent of voters cast ballots.

East Spencer had the greatest turnout with 26.99 percent, a four-point increase over 2015.

East Spencer came the closest to a recount. Former Alderwoman Phronice Johnson said Tuesday that she would contest the tight margin between her and re-elected Alderman Otis Gibson. But a day after the election, Johnson said she decided not to contest the results after she saw the final totals. Gibson received 153 votes, compared to her 143.

Rowan County Board of Elections Director Nancy Evans said Johnson is not eligible to contest the results. The margin of victory must be within 1 percent to call for a recount. Johnson would need seven more votes following a count of absentee ballots.

The unofficial numbers may see slight changes after canvassing is done Nov. 17.

Evans said the Board of Elections has 10 days after an election to count ballots.

“It’s a lot of auditing,” she said. “We make sure all the votes are accounted for.”

Supplemental absentee ballots could still arrive in the mail, Evans said. These ballots can be accepted through Monday if they are postmarked by Election Day.

After the tallying, Rowan County’s Board of Elections will meet to approve the totals, confirming the official vote counts and victors.


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