Voter turnout for 2018 a record low

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 10, 2018

SALISBURY — Rowan County voter participation was at a record-breaking low for primary elections on Tuesday.

Some 10,598 of 94,088 registered voters cast their ballots, leaving the preliminary voter turnout percentage at a meager 11.26 percent.

Provisional and absentee ballots are yet to be tallied, but the record will likely hold. Some 1,800 additional votes would be needed to bring the election into the second-lowest turnout.

The 2018 primary fell short of the 13.17 percent turnout in the July 2004 primary, when current U.S. Sen. Richard Burr was running for a new term.

Many attribute the nearly 2 percent difference to this year’s lack of headline races. On Rowan County ballots this year were races for U.S. House, both chambers of the General Assembly and the Board of Commissioners, as well as the city of Salisbury referendum on leasing Fibrant.

By comparison, the 2004 primary had races for both chambers of Congress and the General Assembly, governor, lieutenant governor, Council of State, and court of appeals judge.

Both the July 2004 and May 2018 primaries fell short of the May 2006 primary, which had a turnout of 13.39 percent.

The 2006 primary included races for Supreme Court associate justice, Court of Appeals judge and Superior Court judge.

Of the ballots yet cast, 2,776 are Democratic, 7,790 are Republican and 32 are unaffiliated.

The highest primary turnout occurred in 1986, when 34.62 percent of registered voters participated.

In May 1986, 46,929 people were registered to vote in Rowan County, meaning 16,245 cast ballots that year.

The most recent presidential primary falls third in voter participation: 33.59 percent of registered voters participated in the primary in March 2016.

Of those, 62.53 percent of ballots were Republican, 31.92 percent were Democratic, 0.3 percent were Libertarian and 1.79 percent were unaffiliated.