Elections board gears up for runoffPublished 4:51pm Monday, June 2, 2014
The Beaufort County Board of Elections is gearing up for a runoff between Democratic and Republican candidates for Beaufort County Sheriff.
Two Democrats — Russell Davenport and Al J. Whitley — and two Republicans — Ernie Coleman and Harry Meredith — will be the only names on the ballots for the July 15 primary. A recount requested by Beaufort County Commissioner candidate Don Cox after the May 6 Republican primary produced no change in total vote count, earning candidate Keith Kidwell a spot on the November ballot, along with top vote-getters Frankie Waters and Ron Buzzeo.
Kellie Hopkins, Beaufort County Board of Elections director, said absentee ballots are already being sent out for the runoff and staff is preparing for next month’s One Stop voting. The Board of Elections will be open for One Stop voting July 3 and July 7-11 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, July 12, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Unlike the lead up to the May 6 primary, the Board of Elections will not have extended hours nor any satellite offices open during the One Stop voting period.
Since the second primary is a local race, Hopkins said she’s expecting a bigger turnout than most second primaries.
“The candidates drive the primary,” Hopkins said. “Turnout is usually pretty low, but with this contest being local and it being both parties … I’m predicting the same amount for the primary, or a little bit less.”
Anyone can vote during the second primary, however, there are some restrictions, Hopkins said. An unaffiliated voter who did not vote in the last primary may declare a party and vote on the Democratic or Republican ballot. An unaffiliated voter who did vote in the May 6 primary has to stay with the political party that they chose on May 6.
“The second primary is an extension of the first,” Hopkins said. “It’s a runoff.”
Voters were given the options of five Democratic and four Republican candidates for the May 6 primary. None received the 41 percent of votes required to be declared a primary winner.