Early voting begins Thursday
Published 6:09 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2016
The early voting period begins Thursday, and one local elections official is interested in how voter turnout will be in the wake of the primaries being moved from May to March 15.
“There could be an increase with the primary being held early. This will be the first time we’ll be able to see if that actually makes a difference,” said Kellie Harris Hopkins, elections director for Beaufort County.
“There’ll be increased turnout from two years ago,” Hopkins predicted, noting the 2014 elections cycle did not occur during a presidential election year. “It should rival ’08, is what I’m thinking because in 2012 there wasn’t a (presidential) primary on the Democratic side.”
In 2008, there were 11,818 people who voted in the primaries, according to Hopkins. “That was roughly a 30-percent turnout, around 30 percent,” she said.
In 2012, there were 11,797 voters who marked ballots in in the primaries. “Historically, in the last two presidential primaries, we’ve had roughly 35 percent, somewhere around there,” Hopkins said.
In January, the three-member Beaufort County Board of Elections unanimously decided to open the board’s offices from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. the last Saturday (March 12) of the early voting period. The 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule for that office includes March 3, March 4 and March 7 through March 11. Three satellite offices (Aurora, Belhaven and Chocowinity) would be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 10 and March 11 (Thursday and Friday) and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 12 (Saturday) of the early voting period.
In addition to the presidential primaries, Beaufort County voters will have choices in other primaries for statewide and local offices.
In the Republican primary for the 6th District seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives, Ashley Woolard, a Washington resident, faces Beverly Boswell, a member of the Dare County Board of Commissioners. In the Democratic primary for that seat, Dare County Democrats Judy Justice and Warren Judge face each other. The district includes part of Beaufort County and all of Dare and Washington counties. The seat is being vacated by Paul Tine, who changed his party affiliation from Democrat to unaffiliated nearly a year ago. Tine is not seeking re-election.
The winners of those respective primaries take on each other in the general election.
Five Republican candidates for the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners will face each other in a primary to determine the four GOP nominees. The five candidates include incumbents Gary Brinn and Hood Richardson. Don Cox, Derik Davis and Jerry Evans round out the GOP field.
Four seats on the board are available in the 2016 election cycle. Commissioners serve four-year, staggered terms.
There will be no primary for Democrats seeking seats on the Board of Commissioners. Incumbents Jerry Langley and Robert Belcher are seeking re-election. Greg Satterthwaite is seeking a seat on the board. They will face the Republican nominees in the general election in November.
Republicans Walter B. Jones Jr., Phil Law and Taylor Griffin will face one another in a primary to determine the GOP nominee to represent the state’s 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Jones, the incumbent, is seeking an 11th term in Congress. The winner of that GOP primary faces Democrat David Hurst in the general election.