Political Notebook: More than 2,000 ballots cast during first few days of early voting period

Published 7:29 pm Monday, May 2, 2022

SALISBURY — Approximately 2,067 ballots have been cast since the one-stop early voting period began in Rowan County for the 2022 primary election on Thursday.

As of Monday, more than 2,000 of those ballots were cast across the three early voting polling locations, which include the Rowan County Board of Elections at 1935 Jake Alexander Boulevard West in Salisbury, the Rockwell American Legion building at 8580 U.S. Highway 52 in Rockwell and the south branch of the Rowan County Public Library at 920 Kimball Road in China Grove. That represents 2.1% of the 96,496 registered voters in Rowan County.

A total of 1,041 of those ballots were cast from Thursday to Sunday at the Salisbury site, while 527 were cast during the same period at the Rockwell site and 471 were cast in China Grove. The Salisbury site saw its best turnout so far on Friday, with 276 ballots cast. Monday was the biggest day for Rockwell, where 145 ballots were cast, and China Grove, where 132 ballots were cast.

Since absentee by mail voting began in April, the Rowan County Board of Elections has met twice to tabulate 28 ballots, all from civilians. The board meets again at its office on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., where more absentee by mail ballots are expected to be tabulated.

Rowan Republicans establish hours for new headquarters building

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Republican Party has established hours of operation for its new headquarters building located at 100 West Innes St., Suite 103.

The building will be open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also on Tuesday and Thursdays, there will be optional hours of 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

If those interested in visiting the building want to confirm someone will be present, call 980-643-4252. Those who stop by can grab campaign signs, candidate lists or volunteer to help the party.

Catawba political scientist Michael Bitzer provides perspective on 2022 primary election

SALISBURY — Catawba College political science department chair Michael Bitzer says if trends on voter turnout for past primaries are any indication of this year’s race, North Carolina could see 15% of registered voters turn out by May 17.

In a blog post published April 28 for Old North State Politics, Bitzer says past presidential primaries have commanded about 30% of voter turnout, with mid-terms closer to half of that rate. That amounts to about a million voters, with a likelihood most of those will vote in the Republican primary, he said.

In general, presidential primaries have turned out 1 million voters for each party depending on the competitiveness of the top races. In 2016 and 2020, about 30% of registered voters cast ballots in the primary. But that rate was essentially cut in half in 2014 and 2018 when midterm elections were held.
However, 2022 is another national midterm election, with the U.S. Senate race to replace Richard Burr sure to garner more attention, Bitzer says.
Earlier this year, the state board of elections confirmed that unaffiliated voters now exceed those registered to either the Republican or Democratic party. In primary elections, unaffiliated voters can choose a ballot with either party. Even still, Bitzer says past primary elections have been determined by registered partisan voters. But 2022 could trend in a different direction.
“With this year’s competitive U.S. Senate nomination battle among Republicans, we’ll likely see more unaffiliateds pick the GOP primary ballot than the Democratic this year, but something to watch,” Bitzer said in his blog post.
Additionally, Bitzer said past primary elections have shown most votes come in on Election Day, though that trend has been shrinking in both parties due to one-stop early voting and absentee by mail voting methods.
“Of course, we will have to wait and see the final results and data for the May 17th primaries to determine whether significant changes are occurring in the primary electorates, but for an election where the likelihood is that 15% of North Carolina’s voters will determine not just the candidates for November’s general election, but in some case, the outright winner of the general election (due to no party opposition in November),” Bitzer said. “If current trends continue, we will have to wait and see the bulk of votes come on Tuesday, May 17, but that number may continue to shrink if past trends continue. Another important factor will be the participation of unaffiliated voters, something that we can determine after the voter history data file is released for May’s primary.”

North Carolina National Guard troops will provide military equipment to Ukraine

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper last week announced the North Carolina National Guard will provide military equipment to Ukraine during the country’s ongoing fight against the Russian invasion.

“The reports of war crimes perpetrated by Russian forces amid their ongoing attacks on Ukraine are heartbreaking and demand serious action,” Cooper said. “North Carolina stands with the people of Ukraine and is ready to support their fight for democracy and freedom.”

The request for North Carolina’s aid comes from the U.S. Department of Defense. The North Carolina Army National Guard will provide M-113 armored personnel carriers as part of a larger support package from the U.S.

In February, Cooper signed Executive Order No. 251 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that directed state government agencies and departments to review all existing contracts and operations and to terminate any agreements or operations that directly benefit Russian entities.

The order covered all state government agencies and departments under Cooper’s authority, as well as state entities for which the governor appoints the chief executive or a majority of the board members. The order included alcohol sales through the North Carolina ABC Commission and purchasing and contracting through the Department of Administration.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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