Second primary ends with low turnout
by Kellen Moore
While certain state and national congressional races drew attention in other parts of the state, Watauga County voters faced no decisions on positions higher than lieutenant governor.
Statewide, only 3.58 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, according to the N.C. Board of Elections.
In Watauga County, exactly 600 people — about 1.5 percent of registered voters — cast ballots, according to Four Eggers, a member of the Watauga County Board of Elections. Of those, 181 were Democratic ballots and 419 were Republican ballots.
Local Board of Elections officials might have guessed that Tuesday would be slow when early and absentee voting yielded only 182 votes.
"Typically turnout is about 50/50 for Election Day and early voting, so it was actually kind of a pleasant surprise that we had more (on Election Day)," Eggers said.
The second primary was a far cry from the first primary on May 8, which drew nearly 35 percent of registered voters to the polls, largely due to the vote on a state constitutional amendment on gay marriage.
The second primary was necessitated after several winning candidates in the first primary did not receive at least 40 percent of the vote, requiring the top two vote-getters to advance.
Now, the stage has been set for the following races in November:
— For lieutenant governor, Republican Dan Forest will face Democrat Linda Coleman.
— For insurance commissioner, Republican Mike Causey will face Democrat incumbent Wayne Goodwin.
— For labor commissioner, Republican incumbent Cherie Berry will face Democrat John C. Brooks.
— For secretary of state, Republican Ed Goodwin will face Democrat incumbent Elaine Marshall.
— For state superintendent, Republican John Tedesco will face Democrat incumbent June Atkinson.
The only upset Tuesday was in the insurance commissioner race; in the first primary, Morgan led Causey by about two percentage points.
Tuesday's results are not official until the canvass on July 24.
Gary Bartlett, executive director of the State Board of Elections, told The News & Observer the runoff election cost between $6 million and $8 million to administer.