Atkinson won the runoff Tuesday, defeating Marshall Stewart for the nomination. Stewart won the primary election in July, but lacked enough votes to avoid a runoff.
Atkinson gathered 149 votes locally, while Stewart received 197 ballots. Statewide, Atkinson defeated Stewart, 43,997 to 35,709.
While voter turnout was poor for the July primary, which was delayed due to lawsuits over redistricting, even fewer ballots were cast for the second primary election.
"Runoffs generally see low turnout," said Bladen County Elections Supervisor Larry Hammond, "but this was extremely low."
A total of 346 votes were cast in Bladen County during the second primary, including early voting. Hammond said that totals 1.73 percent of the total eligible registered voters here.
Elections officials had to open polling places with the same staff, equipment, and supplies as a regular election. Early estimates of the cost for the second primary are between $12,000 and $14,000 in Bladen County alone, or around $40 per voter.
"We cannot and will not cut corners on any election," Hammond said. "We do precisely what the law says, and the law says polling places have to be fully staffed and supplied."
A major portion of the cost, Hammond said, is setting up computer links with polling places. When the polling place is not with the local calling area for Elizabethtown, Hammond said, "It's like making a thirteen-hour long distance phone call."
The computer system makes it impossible for a voter to cast more than one ballot, and instantly provides pollworkers with correct voter registration information. It also provides faster, more accurate vote tallies than other mechanical systems or hand-counting.
"We do what we have to do," Hammond said. "Sometimes it gets expensive."