08/16/04 — Primary scheduled Tuesday in race with little interest

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Primary scheduled Tuesday in race with little interest

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on August 16, 2004 2:01 PM

Does June make you swoon? Or is Marshall your man?

If you've got an opinion and you're a Democrat or unaffiliated voter, the Wayne County Board of Elections wants to hear from you Tuesday.

Polling places for the second Democratic primary for state schools superintendent will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. The contest between June Atkinson and Marshall Stewart, both of Raleigh, is the only one on the local ballot.

Elections Director Gary Sims says all 30 polling places should be ready. Precinct judges and workers have to show up, even if voters are scarce.

"I apologized to them, but there's nothing we can do about it. We know it's going to be a long day," Sims said this morning.

"All I can tell them is 'think November.' Tomorrow they might have 40 people vote all day, but on Election Day, they might have 40 people in line," he continued. "This gives us another dry run to practice and get things right."

The county has around 39,000 people who are eligible to vote Tuesday. That includes 30,975 Democrats.

The county also has 8,173 unaffiliated voters who can vote in the second primary as long as they did not vote on either Republican or unaffiliated ballots in the July 20 primary.

State elections officials are only forecasting a 1 to 4 percent turnout statewide. That would equal 600 to 1,500 voters in Wayne County, or 20 to 50 voters per precinct.

The apathy has already shown up in one-stop voting. Only 14 people stopped by the Board of Elections last week to cast early ballots, Sims said.

Stewart and Atkinson finished atop a three-candidate race in the statewide Democratic primary for schools superintendent. Stewart received 135,348 votes, or 35 percent of the vote; Mrs. Atkinson, 132,041 votes or 34 percent; and J.B. Buxton with 117,274 votes, 31 percent. Mrs. Atkinson was entitled to request the runoff because no candidate received 40 percent of the vote.

June S. Atkinson has 33 years of experience as a teacher and school administrator, including work for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. More information is available at www.june4schools.com.

Marshall Stewart is a former classroom teacher who later was the state director of agriculture education. Go to www.stewartforstudents.org for more information.

Whoever wins the runoff will face Republican Bill Fletcher, a Cary businessman. He is an 11-year member of the Wake County Board of Education. Read more about him at www.billfletcher.com.