It’s Election Day, July 17, 2012
Today is Election Day, and before the polls opened this morning at 6:30 am, 36,999 votes had been cast during the early voting period. Voter turnout in second primary elections is usually very (and I mean very) low. In 2008, with only one statewide contest (Democratic Commissioner of Labor) on the ballot, 1.8 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot. The second primary in 2010 again included only one statewide (Democratic U.S. Senate) contest but garnered 3 percent more than 2008 election with voter turnout at 4.5 percent.
This year there are four Republican statewide contests and one Democratic contest on the second primary ballot. As usual, there is a smattering of district races (Congressional and State) scattered around the state perhaps encouraging heavier local turnout, but with early votes totaling just over one half of one percent of eligible voters, even 4.5 percent may be wishful thinking. 2012
Second Primary Early Voting Facts – According NC Vote Tracker:
Not surprisingly and considering the hotly contested 9th District Congressional race, Mecklenburg County turned out the most voters (4,778) during the early voting period. Vance County came in second, with a total of 1,912 voters voting early and Henderson County was next in line – 1,704 voters. Wake County voter turnout was less than Vance and Henderson counties. Only 1,328 people voted early in Wake.
These numbers could be bad news for Lt. Governor Candidate Tony Gurley, given that in the May 8th Primary Dan Forest, Gurley’s opponent in the 2nd Primary, received 27,066 votes to Gurley’s 6,609 in Mecklenburg County. Mecklenburg is home to 9th District Congresswoman Sue Myrick, Forest’s mother. Wake County clearly favored Gurley, a Wake County Commissioner, in May when he received 39,050 votes to Forest’s 19,767.
Statewide, Republicans (20,514) outvoted Democrats (10,734) almost two to one during early voting. Unaffiliated voters cast 5,750 ballots. Of the unaffiliated voters, almost 85 percent chose Republican ballots and just under 15 percent received Democratic ballots.
The one surprising thing about this election is that Mecklenburg County thought it was necessary to open 4 additional early voting sites – that means a total of five early voting sites for 4,778 voters. The Board of Elections office early voting site was open for voting for 17 days, while the additional sites were open for the last 6 days of voting.
The hardworking taxpayers in Mecklenburg County should pay close attention to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections as they choose the one-stop, early voting sites for the General Election.
Suggestions for interested voters:
Take a look at this article, it’s a good history of 2nd Primary elections – when you are finished reading, I believe you will agree that 2nd primary elections should be abolished.
“Whatever the solution adopted, there is bipartisan support in favor of the abolition of second primaries, which many view as an antiquated process that is no longer needed to support a hostile one-party system and which only leads to needless government expense in harsh economic times.”
Boards of Elections meetings are open to the public – call your elections office and get on their notification list. Attend the meetings and always take a video camera with you.
Polls close at 7:30 pm. Vote.
Why would you want to contact you local board of elections office, they don’t make the laws, contact your members of the NC House and NC Senate they make the laws!!!!! The local boards of elections only abide by the laws enacted by the NC General Assembly The author of this article should know this.
Susan Myrick says
jds – you may want to read that sentence again. I suggested that people should go to their county boe meetings. To do that you should contact the county boe office to find out when the meetings are held – you can also ask to be put on the notification list.
Yeah, let’s close some of those one stop sites this fall so that the voters can go back to standing in line for 6-8 hours on a Presidential election day like they did before one stop voting became popular during the last ten years. I agree they need to make changes in second primary laws, but why make it difficult for voters to cast their ballots. Most families have both parents working and need these extra hours to vote to balance their many demanding family responsibilities. Let not make it harder for voters. You guys already gave away the $4 million dollars that our state had access to to provide voting services to voters. Hopefully, Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, etc. will enjoy the $4 milion since our elected officials weren’t wise enough to take advantage of these funds. Like cutting off your nose despite your face.
susan myrick says
Again, I am suggesting people take part in the decisions being made in their counties. By the way, when has anyone in this state stood in line for 6 – 8 hours to vote? I am curious; do you work for the Board of Elections in your county?
I do believe that the Legislature acted responsibly when they refused to pay for HAVA money for more one-stop sites. It is time to start living within our means. Where would that $4 million dollars come from anyway? The money would be added to this country’s ever growing mountain of debt.
I do think it is a good idea to take part in the electoral process. Volunteer to be a poll worker in an election soon. And no, I don’t work for a board of elections, I work for a major brokerage in downtown Charlotte, but I have worked as a poll worker in previous years in Mecklenburg, very hard work, might I add. I have enough knowledge of the election system in NC to know boards of elections have not spent funds to expand election day polling sites in about ten years, so yes, if there aren’t one stop sites, there will be tremendously long lines. Funds have gone towards one stop sites and making it easier for voters to cast their ballots in NC during the last decade, not expanding election day sites and precincts. Do you realize that in some counties in NC half of the voters now vote during One Stop, which means only half of the voters actually vote on election day. Do you know how much of a burden that would place on precincts to accommodate that many more voters on election day and yes there would be many hours of waiting? You say the money would be added to this country’s ever growing “mountain of debt”, well, guess what, this money was appropriated in 2002 under George Bush and will not be returned to pay off the “mountain of debt”, but will be given to another government entity in another state to fund their voting services. This year the money will still have to be appropriated by local governments for one stop sites, voting equipment and repair, etc. in each county of NC so the “mountain of debt” is going to just accumulate higher for the county taxpayers of Mecklenburg Co. From what I have read, Mecklenburg alone will have to spend on voting equipment maintenance almost what the matching funds would have cost the entire state. Each county could have chipped in their pro rata share and still saved the taxpayers of each county hundreds of thousands of dollars. So let’s see what you do to improve elections in Mecklenburg Co. instead of hinder them.
susan myrick says
No one is talking about getting rid of early voting. And, I have never heard of a 6 to 8 hour wait to vote in NC (and I’ve been aroudn awhile) and to my knowledge the only time more than half the people voted early was in the 2008 general election. 31,783 (unofficial) votes were cast in Mecklenburg County during the 2nd Primary, less than 5,000 people voted early. It sounds like you have a tendency to exaggerate and suggest your exaggerations are fact.
The HAVA money may have been “appropriated” in 2002 but if the check is written today – where is the money coming from?
According to NC General Statutes the County Boards of Elections are statutorily required to administer the elections in their counties. In other words, every year the money is required to be appropriated by local governments for one stop sites, voting equipment and repair, etc.
Here are a couple excerpts from the NC General Statutes (Powers and Duties of county boards of elections). NCGS 163-33 (11) To prepare and submit to the proper appropriating officers a budget estimating the cost of elections for the ensuing fiscal year. (7) To provide for the purchase, preservation, and maintenance of voting booths, ballot boxes, registration and pollbooks, maps, flags, cards of instruction, and other forms, papers, and equipment used in registration, nominations, and elections; and to cause the voting places to be suitably provided with voting booths and other supplies required by law.
Here is a link so you can take a look at all the powers and duties of the Boards of Elections.
I am not sure what you mean by “So let’s see what you do to improve elections in Mecklenburg Co. instead of hinder them.”? Let’s see, where would have the money been better spent? -four additional one-stop sites for 4,500 voters in the 2nd primary or four additional sites for tens of thousands of voters in the November General Election?
Why do you keep talking about the second primary, maybe you missed my statement in the first post that I agree with you that the laws need to be changed for second primaries, or do you just want to exaggerate the true facts of one stop voting. You asked where is the money coming from – from the backs of local taxpayers of Mecklenburg Co. (you proved it by your copy and paste of the NC General Statutes). I never once said money should be spent on One Stop sites for second primaries, that was your imagination. By the way you might want to read the NC General Stautes 163-227, the statutes say boards of elections have to be open for one stop voting 17 days. So still, what are you going to do to improve elections in Mecklenburg Co, instead of hinder them.
Susan Myrick says
I keep talking about the 2nd primary because the Mecklenburg County BOE chose to pay for 4 additional sites, knowing that turnout would be extremely low. Additional means “in addition to” the one statutorily required site. The only thing that I can do to improve elections in Mecklenburg County is to suggest that citizens attend BOE meetings so that they can have input when the 3 member board of elections decide to squander more tax money.
Lobby the General Assembly to change the laws on the second primaries, they are the only ones that can make the changes and get your friends to volunteer as poll workers like I did in the past. How much could six days of voting at 4 sites cost Mecklenburg Co., were the workers, volunteers or paid? Surely less money, than it would have cost for all voters to go to one central location with the cost of gas. Maybe ballots should be mailed to people who request them for second primaries and they can just mail them in. Since not many people vote, then it shouldnt cost much for mail services, other states do it. Maybe more participation if voting by mail.
susan myrick says
You definitely ask good questions jds.
Poll Workers, whether they work during the early voting period at one-stop sites or work in the precincts on Election Day are paid by the county. They are also paid to attend training sessions to begin to learn all the policies, procedures and laws governing the election process in North Carolina. They don’t make much money, and I don’t believe you could ever pay a poll worker enough money for the work they do – but, most of the poll workers I have talked to don’t do it for the money anyway.
Voters are not required to vote at one-stop sites. If they do not want to drive to a one-stop site they can wait until Election Day and take a short drive (or walk) to their precinct’s polling place or they can request an absentee ballot by mail 60 days before election day. Absentee voting by mail is available to all voters in every election.
How much could 6 days of voting at 4 one-stop sites in a 2nd primary cost? A simple answer is 6 days of voting at 4 one-stop sites in the General Election. The actual cost of a site depends on the number of workers and other various costs – easily thousands of dollars a day. The money wasted by Mecklenburg County in the 2nd primary would have been better spent in October and November.
How can the government make a case for more taxpayer money when they don’t spend the money they have wisely?