05/08/08 — Election turnout was high in county

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Election turnout was high in county

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on May 8, 2008 2:11 PM

Even with voter turnout reaching nearly 40 percent Tuesday, Wayne County elections director Vickie Reed said everything went smoothly and that she is confident the county had a successful primary.

"The count came out correctly," she said. "It went very well. Our team was great."

Now it will be just a matter of preparing for canvass, which will be held at 11 a.m., Tuesday.

And while the results won't be official until then, with only about 50 provisional votes cast -- those ballots turned in by voters at the wrong precinct or whose names had changed -- Ms. Reed's not expecting any results to change.

Across the county, there were 23,810 total ballots cast.

Compared to 63,375 registered voters in the county (not counting the 350 who registered same-day at the one-stop site) that's good for a 37.57 percent voter turnout -- better than the state's mark 36.04 percent (nearly 2.1 million out of more than 5.8 million)

"We had almost 38 percent so that was good," Ms. Reed said. "It seems like a pretty good percent to me."

And all throughout the day Tuesday, precinct judges seemed to back that up as they noted that the crowds at the polls were among the strongest they'd ever seen.

The largest crowds, though, appear to have been in the southern end of the county, with 31.57 percent of registered voters casting ballots at Dudley Fire Station in precinct 26, 33.93 percent at Grantham Fire Station in Precinct 24, 35.6 percent at Mount Olive Civic Center in Precinct 25 and 37.84 percent at Southern Academy in Precinct 30.

Other high percentages of registered voters were at Carver Heights School in Precinct 19 (35.99 percent), New Hope Friends Church in Precinct 14 (30.93 percent) and Fremont United Methodist Church (31.8 percent).

Ms. Reed said she believed the crowds were driven by the Democratic presidential primary, the county commissioner at-large primaries, the state Senate District 5 race and the sales tax referendum.

But even once canvass is complete, this primary is likely to continue, with state Senate District 5 Democratic candidate and state Board of Education member Kathy Taft of Greenville promising to request a runoff after the front-runner, Snow Hill Mayor Don Davis, failed to gain the requisite 40 percent or more of the vote.

"It is my intention to file the paperwork necessary with the (state) Board of Elections to seek a runoff primary," Ms. Taft confirmed Wednesday.

Any second primary will be held on June 24.

All registered Democrats and any unaffiliated voters who voted Democratic in the primary in the 5th Senate District will be eligible to vote in the runoff. Unaffiliated voters casting Republican ballots in the primary will not be alllowed to vote in the runoff.