11/06/06 — Turnout expected to be low Tuesday

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Turnout expected to be low Tuesday

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on November 6, 2006 1:45 PM

For more than a week and a half, Wayne County voters went to the polls to cast one-stop early ballots. But now, county officials are wondering how many will go to the polls on Tuesday.

About 6,400, or about 10 percent of eligible Wayne County voters, cast ballots during one-stop early voting, Wayne County Board of Elections Director Gary Sims said. Usually one-stop voting is a good predictor of Election Day turnout, he added.

"During the even years or the non-presidential election years, we usually have a 45 to 50 percent turnout," Sims said.

County elections officials hope 50 percent of Wayne County voters go to the polls. But without a heated national contest on the ballot, Sims said the ideal turnout would be 40 percent.

Unfortunately, Sims said, when only 40 to 50 percent of voters go to the polls, each person is voting for two. If more eligible voters would cast ballots, he added the elections office and the candidates would have a better understanding of how the public truly feels.

Wayne County Republican Party Chairman Ed Wharton said he is encouraged by the early election turnout. Although some officials had predicted low voter turnout across the state, Wharton added that it could be better than predicted in Wayne County.

But Mother Nature could stand between people and the polls, Wharton said.

Parts of Wayne County are expected to get early morning rain showers on Tuesday. Thunderstorms may develop during the day for as much as a quarter of an inch of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

When people go to the polls, which open county-wide at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7:30 p.m., Sims said voters should realize that some times of the day are better for voting than others.

The peak hours for this year's election are expected to be between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m., around noon and any time after 5 p.m. The longest lines are expected at these times, Sims said.

Election Day's ballots include county-wide races for sheriff, clerk of court and a school board seat.

Incumbent Sheriff Carey Winders faces challenger Democrat Ken Edwards. Winders is seeking a fourth, four-year term.

Republican Randy Winders faces Democrat Pam Minshew in the race for clerk of court.

Only one member of the county Board of Education faces opposition. Lehman Smith, who represents District 1, is being challenged by former teacher and coach Dave Thomas. John Grantham in District 4, George Moye in District 5 and Rick Pridgen in District 6 have no opposition. District Court Judge Beth Heath and District Attorney Branny Vickory also have no opposition.

Another local race includes the two open seats for the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District. The three candidates running for the two positions are Bryant Worley, Ronald Parks and James Jernigan.

State candidates will also be fighting to win a place in Raleigh for their constituents and a majority for their respective parties.