Voter turnout nearly half of 2010 primary

Primary election voter turnout: 34 percent in 2010, 18.24 percent in 2014

By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — Voter turnout in Richmond County from 2010 to 2014, comparing two non-presidential elections, saw a drastic drop this year of more than 46 percent.

A mere 18.24 percent, or 5,541 of Richmond County’s 30,380 registered voters bothered to complete a ballot between early voting between April 24 and May 3 or Tuesday’s primary election day at 16 precincts across the county.

Nearly 80 percent (79.99, to be exact) of Richmond County voters who cast a ballot on Tuesday were Democrats, while 1,032 (18.62 percent) were Republicans, 69 (1.25 percent) were nonpartisan and eight (0.14 percent) were Libertarian.

primary_electionLocally, there were two races that were decided by Tuesday’s primary election. The top four vote-getters among seven candidates for the Board of Education will take office in June while, in a Democratic primary, incumbent Vickie Daniel defeated challenger Peggy Roach.

The Board of Education race was tight. Newcomer Bobbie Sue Ormsby was the top vote-getter with 3,124 votes. Incumbent Joe Richardson was second with 2,957 votes, challenger Don Greene was third (2,718) and incumbent Irene Aiken (2,467) was fourth. Challenger T.K. Thrower was the first runner-up, finishing fifth in a race for the top four spots with 2,377 votes. Incumbent Pam Easterling was sixth (2,341) and challenger Dewey Brower was seventh (1,648).

Early voting seemed to be a predict the final outcome. Among the county’s 1,649 early voters, the result in the BOE race was the same. Take a look after only the early voting ballots were counted:

* Bobbie Sue Ormsby – 942
* Joe Richardson – 907
* Don Greene – 741
* Irene Aiken – 719
T.K. Thrower – 676
Pam Easterling – 662
Dewey Brower – 502
* = winner

Early voting also served as a bellwether for turnout. In 2010, there were 3,721 early votes cast; this year, only 1,649, or 55.6 percent fewer than in 2010.

Director of Elections Connie Kelly said prior to the election that 2010 was unique. That year’s primary saw a heated contest for county sheriff that lured voters to the polls. This year, voting was close between the BOE candidates but there were  no hot-button issues that separated some from others.

The race between Daniel and Roach might have drawn more interest from voters had it not been a Democrat-only contest. As it is, Daniel garnered more than 65 percent of the vote, earning the trust of 2,835 voters compared to 1,518 for Roach.




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