Heated races drive early voter turnout

May. 06, 2014 @ 03:11 PM

Turnout for early voting was up in Caldwell County for the mid-term primaries this year, despite the number of days for early voting being cut from 17 to 10 in North Carolina.

The higher turnout likely was due to heated races for sheriff and district attorney, said Sandra Rich, the director of the Caldwell County Board of Elections.

A total of 3,441 people voted from April 24 to May 3, an average of more than 340 a day. In the 2010 midterm primaries, 2,698 people voted during the 17-day early voting period, fewer than 160 a day.

The only local primary races are between Republican candidates — for sheriff, district attorney and two seats on the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners — and 86 percent of the early ballots cast, or 2,963, were Republican primary ballots, which can be cast by voters registered Republican or unaffiliated.

Reducing the number of days for early voting was among a number of changes that critics said were attempts by the Republican-dominated General Assembly to make it more difficult for people to vote, particularly for minorities.

While the change cut a week from the early voting period, the number of hours offered for citizens to vote was kept the same. Caldwell County added an early voting site at the Caldwell County Public Library in Lenoir.