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Originally published: 2014-05-09 14:35:31
Last modified: 2014-05-09 14:36:16

Primary draws 15% of Watauga voters

by Anna Oakes

Nearly 15 percent of Watauga County registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday's primary election, according to the State Board of Elections.

That equates to 6,482 ballots cast out of 43,630 on the county's voting roster. Statewide, 15.7 percent of registered voters -- 1,023,450 citizens -- turned out for the primary.

"We think things went really well," said Watauga County Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges.

Hodges said Wednesday that vote totals changed slightly compared with the numbers provided by the county office on election night, but that none of the results were impacted.

"Any time (poll workers are) doing it by phone, you're going to have mistakes," Hodges noted.

The State Board of Elections apologized for website glitches that occurred on election night, which temporarily displayed an incorrect number of reporting precincts.

"We regret that initial display errors caused frustration for our voters and our county boards of elections," said SBOE Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach. "The state board takes seriously its responsibility to report accurate and timely results. Our dedicated staff worked throughout the evening to resolve these issues. This agency is committed to the continued improvement of our website."

The results announced Tuesday will not be official until the canvass on May 13, when the local Board of Elections will certify the validity of the six provisional ballots that were cast.

The closest race in Watauga was the Republican primary contest between Karen Greene Lerch and Matt Klutz for Watauga County Board of Commissioners District 3. Lerch garnered 1,605 votes, or 50.78 percent, while Klutz received 1,556 votes, or 49.22 percent. Even if all six provisional ballots count and include votes for Klutz, it does not appear he will fall within the 1 percent difference needed to request a recount.

Despite a shorter early voting period as a result of last year's election law changes, more North Carolinians cast their votes during this year's primary than in 2010, according to the governor's office. During this year's 10-day early voting period, 259,590 ballots were cast, compared to 172,972 over the 17-day early voting period in the 2010 primary.

"The 86,618 additional ballots reflect a 50 percent increase in voters who participated in 2014 over 2010, the last non-presidential primary," a statement from the governor's office said.