Early voting off to a slow start in Rowan County

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 20, 2018

SALISBURY — Early voting kicked off Thursday with a predictably small turnout at the Rowan County Board of Elections.

All told, only 0.16 percent of voters cast their ballots — 152 of the 94,275 registered in the county. This is less than half the turnout in the last off-year election in 2014.

The early voting polls opened in 2014 at Rowan Public Library’s main branch. Then, 387 voters turned out the first day.

Poll workers said Thursday they think the smaller turnout was because of a lack of primary races.

“Since this is not a presidential election, I don’t think it will bring many people out,” said Richard Dillon. “…┬áThere’s not any big issues for people. Voters aren’t fired up.”

This year, there are Republican primaries only for county commissioner and in state Senate District 33 and state House District 83. For Democrats, there are primaries in the 8th and 13th Congressional Districts and state House District 83.

Two nonpartisan seats are up for election on the Kannapolis City Board of Education.

In contrast, the 2014 ballot included races for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the N.C. House, county commissioners, clerk of court, register of deeds, sheriff, Supreme Court associate justice, District Court judge and Kannapolis school board.

Andrew Poston, campaign manager for Republican commissioner candidate Mike Julian, agreed with the poll workers’ reasoning.

“There’s no top-ballot race this year to get people excited,” Poston said. “No senatorial races, no presidential races. I had two races to vote for.”

Elections Director Nancy Evans said the small number of voters is business as usual for midterm elections.

“This is probably more of a normal primary, off year,” said Evans.

Poston was one of three people out electioneering just before noon Thursday. He was joined by Julian and incumbent Commissioner Greg Edds.

Despite the meek turnout, Poston, Julian and Edds stressed the importance of local government. Postan said this will be an “important election cycle.”

“It really doesn’t matter who you come out and vote for. The point is that you need to get out and vote,” he said. “It’s your constitutional right but it’s also your duty as a citizen.”

Julian said the importance of local government is a message he has been sharing at home for many years.

“I’ve preached to both my daughters for years: If you want to make a difference in your local community, get involved in local politics,” said Julian.

Edds said the impact of local government should make midterm election years more appealing to voters.

“Local government is closest to the community. … Real differences can be made the closer you are to the community,” Edds said. “I certainly respect our state elected officials and our federal folks, but here, five people make a real difference.”

Voting will continue Friday at the Board of Elections Office in West End Plaza, 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. W.

Additional one-stop locations will open Friday at the American Legion building in Rockwell, 8580 U.S. 52, and the Rowan Public Library South Branch in China Grove, 920 Kimball Road.

All sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Salisbury location will be open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, April 28 and May 5.

Rockwell and China Grove sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 28.

All locations will be closed on Sundays.