05/02/06 — Turnout light for primary

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Turnout light for primary

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on May 2, 2006 1:54 PM

Voter turnout was low this morning in Wayne County, with most polls reporting single-digit numbers in the first hour of primary elections.

Elections Director Gary Sims said a call from one precinct in Mount Olive at 8:40 this morning told the tale -- only six had voted there. Polls opened at 6:30 a.m.

"It (turnout) is pretty low," he said. "But we expected that."

Even at the WAGES building on Royall Avenue, one of the busiest precincts during the last primary, voting was as slow as it was at the other precincts this morning.

Chief Precinct Judge Bobby Jones said nine people had voted in the first hour at WAGES, but for a primary that's about average, he added.

"We probably won't get the bigger turnout until around lunch time," Jones said. "Mornings are pretty much slow."

Local campaign workers sitting on a truck near one of the polling places said they were disappointed in the number of people who had turned out to vote so far.

Clerk of Court Marshal Minshew, who did not seek re-election this time, walked up to the truck. Turnout had been light at the polls he visited, too.

He said he was at Wayne Center for 45 minutes and only saw one person vote.

"It's slow everywhere," he said.

The highest turnout he had heard about from the first hour was at the New Hope fire station, with 33 people voting.

Sims was on his way out the door, to deliver a spare voting machine to one of the county precincts that had a problem with its machine -- one of the few that had caused the county trouble this morning.

He said the new machines are working out well, "as long as this one works good."

Most precincts have had a successful morning with the new machines, he added. Only a few minor problems have surfaced -- including a simple error anyone could have made, Sims said.

"This is the first (problem), besides some start-up problems like reminding people to plug it in," he said. "They don't work every day in elections."

In Duplin County, officials said it's too early to determine voter turnout.

Suzanne Southerland, the county's elections supervisor, said she has no idea yet how many residents have cast their ballot today.

"The board members won't be back until it's time to count absentee ballots, and that's at 2 (p.m.)," she said. "Until then, I probably won't know anything unless one of them calls me."

Mrs. Southerland added Duplin is using optical scan machines, and no problems have been reported.

"None at all," she said.