Voter turnout dismal at 38.8 percent

W. Curt Vincent -

A mere 38.8 percent of Bladen County’s registered voters bothered to cast a ballot for the primary election, despite the fact there were several important races and referendums on the ballot.

“It was lower than normal, especially for a presidential primary,” said Cynthia Shaw, director of the Bladen County Board of Elections. “It wasn’t really that surprising after we started seeing the mail-in absentee ballots coming in. The return was pretty low compared with other years.”

Shaw said about 700 absentee ballots were mailed out and only about 520 were returned by Tuesday. She said some years there were 1,500 absentee ballots mailed out.

Of the county’s 22,281 registered voters, only 8,844 cast a vote for Tuesday’s election that included a three-party presidential primary, two-party governor primary, statewide $2 billion bond referendum, three county referendums and several local primaries within the Board of Education and Board of County Commissioners.

The Board of Elections will canvas the votes on Tuesday at 11 a.m..

“We’re auditing the provisional votes now and preparing for the canvas,” Shaw said. “We have something like 72 provisional ballots, which of course are both Republican and Democratic ballots.”

One race that could be affected by the provisional ballots is the Democratic race for the county commissioner seat between incumbent Wayne Edge and challenger Kenneth Register Jr., who are currently separated by just 19 votes and could result in a recount.

“There are no plans yet on what might happen there,” Shaw said. “We’ll first have to see if the difference falls into the 1-percent range, and then Mr. Edge will have to decide if he wants a recount.”

Shaw reported that there were no problems in the area with North Carolina’s new voter ID law.

“It was actually a very good thing,” she said. “It really helped things go a lot smoother.”

But Shaw added that she would like to encourage Bladen County voters to take note of other areas affecting the upcoming elections in June and November.

“We had calls all day long with people checking on their parties or saying they weren’t (the affiliation) listed on their ballot,” she said. “We can’t just change that the day of the election. Our books are open now, and we will be having an election in June. They need to call if they want to change or check on their affiliation.”

May 13 is the deadline to register for, or change an affiliation for, the June 7 congressional election.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

W. Curt Vincent

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