BOE sees good voter turnout

Published 7:33 pm Thursday, March 17, 2016

Nearly 40 percent of Beaufort County’s registered voters marked ballots in primaries this election cycle.

Of the county’s 32,132 registered voters, 12, 716 (or 39.57 percent) took part in the various primaries, from presidential to county commissioners.

“I think like last time we had 37 percent in 2012 for the last presidential preference primary. So, I mean it was a 2-percent increase. Does that constitute a big increase? I don’t know,” said Kellie Harris Hopkins, Beaufort County’s elections director, on Thursday. “To me it was about normal. … Beaufort County tends to vote higher. We’re normally in the top 10 counties in North Carolina with voter turnout. Beaufort County votes better than a lot of counties in North Carolina.”

Statewide, the 35.35-percent voter turnout for the primaries was the highest in recorded history, according to North Carolina State Board of Elections officials. That turnout exceeded the 34.7-percent turnout in the 2012 primaries.

In the Republican primary to select four nominees to run for the four seats available on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners this election cycle, Don Cox has the option of calling for a recount. Unofficial vote totals had Cox coming in last among the five GOP candidates. Because there is less than a 1-percent difference between his vote total (949) and Gary Brinn’s vote total (992), Cox is eligible to request a recount, Hopkins said.

Unofficial vote totals have Brinn, Hood Richardson, Derik Davis and Jerry Evans as the Republican nominees for the county board.

In the Republican presidential primary, 44.28 percent (3,165 votes) of the voters marked ballots for Donald Trump, followed by Ted Cruz with 37.64 percent (2,690 votes) and John Kasich with 10.06 percent (719 votes). Marco Rubio, who suspended his campaign Tuesday night, had 5.23 percent (374 votes).

Trump carried the Aurora, Beaver Dam, Belhaven, Chocowinity, Edward, North Creek, Old Ford, Pinetown, River Road, Woodard’s Pond, Surry-Bath, P.S. Jones/Washington Ward 3 and Washington Ward 4 precincts. Cruz carried the Tranters Creek, Washington Ward 1, Washington Ward 2, Washington Park, Hunters Bridge, Pantego, Gilead and Blounts Creek precincts.

In the Democratic presidential primary, 56.37 percent (3,034 of the voters supported Hillary Clinton, with 34.19 percent (1,840 votes) of voters marking ballots for Bernie Sanders.

Clinton carried the Aurora, Belhaven, Blounts Creek, Chocowinity, Edward, Gilead, Pantego, Old Ford, Tranters Creek, P.S. Jones/Washington Ward 3, Washington Ward 1, Washington Ward 2, Washington Ward 4 and Washington Park precincts.

Sanders carried the Pinetown, Beaver Dam, Hunters Bridge, Surry-Bath, North Creek, Woodard’s Pond and River Road precincts.

Fifty percent of the 20 Beaufort County voters who marked ballots in the Libertarian presidential primary marked the “no preference” option. Of the 20 votes cast in that primary, Gary Johnson collected nine of them, followed by Derrick Michael Reid with one vote.

Richardson, the top vote-getter in the Republican primary for four seats on the seven-member Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, won 11 of the 21 precincts. Davis won the remaining 10 precincts. Richardson won the Aurora, Belhaven, Beaver Dam, Chocowinity, Edward, Hunters Bridge, North Creek, Pantego, Pinetown, Surry-Bath and Woodard’s Pond precincts. Davis carried the Old Ford, Tranters Creek, P.S. Jones/Washington Ward 3, Washington Ward 1, Washington Ward 2, Washington Ward 4, Washington Park, River Road, Blounts Creek and Gilead precincts.

During the early voting period at the Chocowinity satellite polling place and at the Beaufort County Board of Elections office in Washington, Davis carried them with 223 and 424 votes, respectively. Richardson carried the Aurora and Belhaven satellite sites with 13 and 26 votes respectively. Richardson also collected the most votes from absentee ballots with 33, followed by Gary Brinn and Jerry Evans with 17 votes each, Davis with 15 votes and Don Cox with eight votes.

The other three candidates in that primary did not carry any precincts between them.

Of the county’s 21 precincts, all but four of them supported the Connect NC public improvement bond initiative. Those four precincts were Beaver Dam, Hunters Bridge, North Creek and Pinetown,

The board will canvass ballots Tuesday, when it will decide which provisional ballots, if any, will be approved and their votes added to the vote totals.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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