by Tiara Hodges
Early voting turnout in Durham and Wake counties is expected to meet or exceed the 2008 numbers. Early voting ends Saturday, May 5. Election Day is Tuesday, May 8.
In Durham County, about 20,000 people voted in the 2008 May primary with the bulk (12,000) casting ballots during the final week of the primaries, said Durham Board of Elections Director Michael Perry. This year, 12,500 people have voted so far in Durham County, with most votes expected to be cast this week.
Of the early voters, 62.7 percent are registered Democrats, 11.5 percent are Republicans, 0.3 percent Libertarians and 25.5 percent are unaffiliated. There have been some reported complaints at the polls related to campaigning, Perry said, most of them regarding the Super PAC Durham Partnership for Progress and allegations that it is coordinating with candidates, which is illegal under federal election law. These complaints have been forwarded to the state Board of Elections.
Wake County has reported 12,062 votes cast during early voting. Additionally, 950 absentee ballots by mail have been returned.
Wake County Board of Elections Deputy Director Gary Sims said that this year, the vote count will be on track with or exceed the 2008 total of 37,457 because the bulk of early voting in 2008 was done in only three days.
Of the citizens choosing to vote early, 48.6 percent are registered Democrats, 25.4 percent are registered Republicans, 0.3 percent are Libertarians and 25.7 percent are unaffiliated. Sims says that there are no reported problems at the polls except for confusion about the parameters of a primary election.
If a voter is registered with one party, then the only ballot that voter can cast is with that particular party. If the voter is unaffiliated, then he or she can choose to vote on any of the party ballots or the nonpartisan ballot.
In Orange County, early voter turnout was 6,827 as of Saturday. Board of Elections Director Tracy Reams would like to reach the 2008 total of 17,290 votes cast by the end of early voting, but unless a significant number of voters turn out this week, the county may fall short of that number.
Of the early voters, 59.7 percent are registered Democrats, 9.9 percent are registered Republicans, 0.4 percent are Libertarians and 30 percent are unaffiliated. Although there have been no reported problems in the polls, Reams said had hoped that turnout in northern polling sites would be heavier than it has been.
Tiara Hodges is an intern with the Independent Weekly.