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Originally published: 2012-11-08 19:56:29
Last modified: 2012-11-08 19:56:29

Turnout down, 599 vote early in Foscoe

by Anna Oakes

Voter turnout in the 2012 election in Watauga County was 61.9 percent, according to unofficial  results — a decline compared to 2008, when turnout was 66 percent.

A total of 27,764 ballots were cast in this year’s election, out of 44,865 registered voters. Of those, 10,138 were cast on Election Day, 15,319 were submitted during the early voting period and 1,269 were mail-in absentee votes. An additional 1,038 ballots were cast at transfer stations on Election Day.

The election results will be certified official ational movement coordinated by the organization Public Citizen to at the Watauga County Board of Education’s canvass at 11 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 16.

At that meeting, the board will consider the validity of 321 provisional ballots that were cast on Election Day for voters whose registration could not be verified.

Watauga County Elections Director Jane Hodges said the number of new voter registrations is what stands out to her about this election.

“We had almost 6,000 new registrations, and I’m very proud of that,” Hodges said. “I just want to say I have some of the best staff that there’s ever been and the best poll workers.”


Unofficial results corrected
The vote totals published by the Watauga County Board of Elections on the night of the election were incorrect due to an error in submitting data, Hodges said in an email Wednesday.

“In auditing the signed returns by the precinct officials, it appears that Transfer 2 precinct was input into the computer twice and has resulted in a slight difference in voted totals reported on election night,” Hodges said.

While the correction changed the vote totals by a few hundred votes, it did not change the results in any countywide races, she said.

To view the corrected, unofficial election results for Watauga County, visit http://www.wataugademocrat.com.


School board race not as close as thought
In the race between six candidates for three seats on the Watauga County Board of Education, the third-place finisher Ron Henries was initially shown to have finished ahead of fourth-place finisher Jay Fenwick by a little more than 100 votes, and some wondered if a recount or provisional ballots could change the outcome.
But with the release of the corrected results on Wednesday, Henries’ lead is now 244 votes.


Elections office ‘pleased’
with Foscoe early voting site
In response to requests that an early voting location be established somewhere outside of Boone, the Board of Elections created a new site at the Foscoe Fire Department, which was open from 7 a.m. to  6 p.m. Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.
Hodges said 599 people voted at the Foscoe location — out of 15,319 total early votes.
“We were pleased for a first time and for three days,” Hodges said.


Polling issue explained
The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office was called to Green Valley School on Election Day because of a dispute over a physical education class being held in the gym in which voting was taking place.

Hodges said state law prohibits anyone except for voters and elections personnel to be in the voting “enclosure,” which in the case of Green Valley School was the gym. When a school staff member began to prepare for a gym class by pulling out the bleachers, the chief judge at the site informed him that was not permitted, Hodges said.

Hodges spoke to Green Valley Principal Phillip Griffin, who said that children had been allowed in the area while voting took place in the past.

“Our former chief judge did allow this to happen, (and) they assumed it would continue,” Hodges said.

On Wednesday, Watauga County Schools Superintendent David Kafitz said, “Yesterday afternoon Director Hodges and I spoke about the issue, and I believe we have come to an understanding as to what should have been done or could have been done differently to avoid the entire situation.

Fortunately, the voting was able to go off without a hitch yesterday, and I believe that’s what’s most important.”


Republicans lead NC legislative, executive branches
With the election of Republican Pat McCrory as North Carolina’s governor, the legislative and executive branches of state government are both led by the GOP for the first time since the 19th century.

In addition, conservatives retained a 4-3 majority on the N.C. Supreme Court with the re-election of Justice Paul Newby.

“Obviously, nationally we were very disappointed that Gov. Romney wasn’t elected,” said Matt Snyder, chairman of the Watauga County Republican Party. “But, locally, we’re very pleased that Jonathan Jordan will be returning to represent Watauga and Ashe counties.”

“We’re really happy about Gov. McCrory and Justice Newby, too,” Snyder said.