Marshall triumphs in county

Published 12:26 am Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Staff Writer

Cal Cunningham and Elaine Marshall threw a party, but no one came.
Well, not exactly no one, but few enough.
Turnout for Tuesday’s statewide second primary was as lackluster as elections officials had predicted, and the scorching heat didn’t exactly motivate voters who were on the fence about getting out and marking ballots.
A few local runoffs were to be decided at scattered locales in North Carolina on Tuesday, but the contest pitting Democrats Marshall and Cunningham against one another was the only statewide item on the ballot, and the sole thing on the table in Beaufort County.
Marshall easily won Beaufort County with 606 votes to Cunningham’s 408 votes, according to unofficial totals.
The Associated Press declared Marshall the winner after 34 percent of the state’s precincts had reported their vote totals. Marshall had 62 percent of the votes cast in those reporting precincts.
The winner of the runoff will advance to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., in the Nov. 2 general election.
Marshall, North Carolina’s longtime secretary of state, outpolled Cunningham, a former state senator, in the May 4 primary but failed to get the 40 percent of the vote needed to avoid a second primary.
The runoff votes will be canvassed and made official at 11 a.m. June 29.
Archie Harding, secretary of the Beaufort County Board of Elections, said he visited 10 of the county’s 21 precincts Tuesday and saw no more than one person voting at any given time.
Countywide, the lowest voter participation was in the Hunters Bridge and Pinetown precincts, which served just 11 voters each.
By 5 p.m., just 38 people had participated in balloting at the Washington Ward 4 polling place, located in the Bobby Andrews Recreation Center.
“I think it’s more than what we thought,” quipped chief judge Jackie Leggett.
By the time the polls closed at 7:30 p.m., 48 people had voted at the recreation center.
Participation wasn’t much heavier at the Washington Park voting station inside the town’s municipal building, where 37 voters had bothered to show up by 5 p.m.
That total got bumped up to 42 when the final tallies were added at closing.
Some Washington Park voters were “just commenting about how slow it is,” said poll worker Blanche Hudson.
Among them was Horace Cowell, a Washington Park commissioner who understands the importance of elections.
“I would say it has to do with the candidates,” Cowell said, when asked how he accounted for the dearth of interest.
He added that nothing else was on the ballot in Beaufort County, which further eroded voter enthusiasm.
“I think that I should vote,” Cowell said. “It’s a privilege.”
The Associated Press was reporting Washington resident Greg Dority had an early lead against Scott Cumbie in the runoff to determine the GOP nominee who will take on incumbent Democrat Mel Watt for the state’s 12th Congressional District seat.