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Early voting starts Thursday

Early voting in the 2012 primary election begins Thursday in Beaufort County and throughout North Carolina.

The Beaufort County Board of Elections will hold one-stop, walk-in voting 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 5. The primary is May 8.

In addition to a slate of statewide offices — including governor, lieutenant governor and members of the Council of State — Beaufort County voters will cast ballots in primaries for two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, one state senator, two members of the N.C. House of Representatives and the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

In Democratic and Republican primaries, voters will choose four Democrats and four Republicans to vie in the Nov. 6 general election from among a crowded field of 13 candidates.

Six Democrats and seven Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination to vie in November for four seats on the county board in a campaign that could, ultimately, change the balance of power on the board.

The Democratic candidates include Wayne Sawyer, Lloyd Ballance, Robert Belcher, Mickey Cochran, Carolyn W. Harding and incumbent Jerry E. Langley, who currently serves as chairman of the board. Incumbent Commissioner Robert B. Cayton of Aurora is not seeking re-election. He is running unopposed in the Democratic primary for the 3rd District seat in N.C. House of Representatives.

The Republican commissioner candidates include incumbents Jay McRoy and Hood Richardson and Gary Brinn, Larry Britt, Donald Dixon, Rick Gagliano and Tony T.J. Keech Jr.

In the 1st District race for the N.C. Senate, two Beaufort County Republicans, Jerry Evans and Bill Cook, are vying for the Republican nomination. The winner will face incumbent Sen. Stan White of Nags Head, who is unopposed for the Democratic Party nomination.

The 1st District includes all or parts of Beaufort, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde Pasquotank and Perquimans counties.

Some Beaufort County voters will be casting ballots in the race to represent the 3rd District in the N.C. House of Representatives. Three Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination in that race. They include Wayne Langston of Chocowinity, Michael Speciale of New Bern and Cayton Tripp of Vanceboro. In November, the GOP nominee will face Cayton who is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Norman Sanderson, the incumbent if vying for a seat in the state Senate.

Other Beaufort County voters will cast ballots for candidates in the 6th District in the state House. Three Republicans, including Jeremy D. Adams of Nags Head, Mattie Jane Lawson of Kill Devil Hills and Arthur J. Williams III of Washington, are vying for their party’s nomination in that race. The winner will face Democrat Paul N. Tine in the November general election. Cook, the incumbent, is seeking a seat in the state Senate.

Beaufort County voters also will cast ballots in two races for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Some local voters will cast ballots in the 1st Congressional District race. In the Democratic primary, incumbent U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield of Wilson faces a challenge from Dan Whittacre of Henderson. The winner will vie against Republican Pete DiLauro in November.

Other local voters will cast ballots in the race for the 3rd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the Republican primary, incumbent U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones of Farmville faces a challenge from Frank Palombo of New Bern. The winner will vie against Democrat Erik Anderson of Winterville. He is running unopposed.

Beaufort County voters will get to decide the fate of one sales-tax initiative and a proposed change to the state constitution.

Voters will be asked to decide whether to increase the county’s sales-tax rate in exchange for a future reduction in their property taxes.

Local voters will join those statewide in deciding the fate of a constitutional amendment that would recognize marriage between one man and one women as the only domestic legal union that is valid or recognized in the state.

Those not registered to vote may register in person and then vote at one-stop voting sites in their counties of residence during the one-stop voting period. To register during the one-stop period, state law stipulates that applicants must show an acceptable proof of their name and residence in the county.