Democrats outvote GOP 2-to-1
by Anna Oakes
Although Democrats make up less than a third of the active electorate in Boone, registered Democrats represented 46 percent of the 1,974 people who voted in this year's town election, out-voting Republicans by a more than a 2-to-1 ratio, according to data provided by the Watauga County Board of Elections.
Nine hundred Democrats voted in the Boone election (46 percent of total votes), compared with 618 unaffiliated voters (31 percent), 442 Republicans (22 percent) and 14 Libertarians (1 percent), according to elections data.
Of the 12,557 active registered voters in the Boone town limits, however, unaffiliated voters are the largest segment of the electorate, with 5,867 citizens (47 percent), followed by Democrats with 3,533 (28 percent), Republicans with 2,938 (23 percent) and Libertarians with 219 (2 percent).
In another comparison, 25 percent of the active registered Democrats in Boone showed up at the polls in 2013, followed by 15 percent of Republicans, 11 percent of unaffiliated voters and 6 percent of Libertarians.
Speaking with Watauga Democrat last week, Watauga County Democratic Party Third Vice Chairman Jesse Presnell credited an aggressive voter registration effort, an active youth team and calls and visits to thousands of citizens as factors behind Democrats' success in this year's election.
Democratic Party Chairwoman Diane Tilson did not immediately respond as of presstime to an email seeking additional comment on turnout by Democrats.
Local Republican Party Chairwoman Anne-Marie Yates said she had not yet looked at the voter turnout numbers but that she plans to review them.
"The leadership (of the county GOP) will get together and look over it and come up with some plans for the future," Yates said.
Asked why he thought Republicans did not turn out at the rate of Democrats, Republican Matthew Long -- whose bid for the Boone Town Council was unsuccessful -- said, "I really don't know the answer to that."
"I would assume that the students that voted, probably the number of those students would be more registered Democrats," he said.
"It felt like it was low voter turnout in general," he added. "I think that the local Republican Party, the Watauga GOP folks, I think they were active in trying to encourage people to get out and vote.
"I think it just really boils down to does the actual citizen put forth the time and the effort to go and vote," he said. "It seemed to me that there was a lot of media coverage, and a lot of people should have been aware that we had a municipal election. At the end of the day, not very many of those people came out and voted."
Correction: The total number of voters in the Boone municipal election was incorrectly stated in the Nov. 13, 2013, article titled "Election results official, winners unchanged." The figure omitted 52 votes from a Boone transfer station. The correct total number of Boone voters in this year's election is 1,974, or 12 percent of the 16,399 active and inactive registered voters in Boone.