Absentee voting under way

Published 4:15 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Absentee voting is under way in 16 congressional primaries after a federal court in February ordered state legislators to redraw district lines.

The primaries are set for June 7.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections encourages voters to consider participating in the primaries by voting by mail in what is expected to be a low-turnout election. In 1998, North Carolina’s stand-alone congressional primary attracted only 4 percent of registered voters.

“Voting by mail helps ensure that graduation ceremonies and summer travel won’t keep you from participating,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the State Board of Elections, in a news release.

Citing the unexpected nature of the June primary, the State Board of Elections ordered counties to carry forward absentee-ballot requests from the March 15 statewide primary. The state’s 100 county boards of elections are now mailing more than 55,000 absentee ballots, with more requests expected before the civilian deadline on May 31. As of Tuesday, the Beaufort County Board of Elections had mailed 194 absentee ballots, according to Anita Bullock Branch, the county’s deputy elections director.

As for the Republican primary to choose the GOP nominee for the 3rd District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, the lineup is the same as it was after the initial filing period ended Dec. 21, 2015.

Incumbent Walter B. Jones, seeking a 12th consecutive two-year term, faces challenges from Phil Law and Taylor Griffin. The winner of the June 7 GOP primary takes on the winner of the Democratic primary for the 3rd District seat. David Allan Hurst and Ernest T. Reeves face each other in the Democratic primary.

Four of the five candidates (Reeves did not file in the initial filing period) were forced to re-file as the result of a ruling by a three-member panel of judges declared two of North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts, including the 1st District, unconstitutional because race was used in setting their boundaries and set Feb. 19 as the deadline for redrawn district maps to be submitted. As a result of that ruling, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a new map depicting the state’s 13 congressional districts. The new maps place all of Beaufort County in the 3rd District. Previously, part of the county was in the 3rd District and the remaining part of the county was in the 1st District, represented by U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat.

At that time, the Legislature delayed the primaries for the U.S. House until June 7. Under that new plan, the candidate receiving the most votes in a primary would automatically win the primary and would not have to receive at least 40 percent of the votes cast, an exception to existing state law.

Absentee ballots may be obtained by visiting the Beaufort County Board of Elections at 1308 Highland Drive, Washington, or calling 252-946-2321.


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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