Did you know we had a second primary July 17th, a run-off election? Apparently, most North Carolinians did not know or care. Despite numerous stories in the media, and of course on WCHL and chapelboro.com, the turnout statewide was a dismal 3.58 percent.
At White Cross, I was voter number nine around 9 am. When the polls closed at 7:30, only 65 had voted in my home precinct. As a whole, Orange County voted only 2,457 or 2.45 percent of eligible voters. That compares to 7.8 percent for the second primary in 2010 and 5.3 percent for the second primary in 2008. Chatham County voted 4.14 percent and Durham County voted 2.10 percent on July 17th. And even in the home of state government, only 4.52 percent turned out to vote in Wake County.
Conversely, Rural Vance and Warren Counties at the Virginia border had the states highest turnout at 15 and 13 percent respectively. In those two counties, local races brought out many more voters than the state average. Robeson County had the state’s lowest turnout at less than one percent: 653 out of 70,600 registered voters. Poll workers at most statewide precincts spend the day reading and waiting. That’s pathetic.
Sure turnout was influenced by the lack of races. The Democrat ballot had only the Secretary of Labor run-off. Republicans had four scant races to decide. Some counties had local races to decide. Others did not. There was certainly no hot-button issue, like the marriage amendment that drew nearly 44 percent of Orange county voters to the polls in May. Add in summer vacations and the heat and, maybe, you get a few plausible excuses for not voting.
Still, I feel that, as citizens, we have not only the right to vote, but also the obligation to exercise this most precious, fundamental right. If your candidate didn’t win or lose outright in May, wouldn’t you want to vote again to influence the outcome in July? That was apparently not enough for most people …even here in passionate, educated Orange County, where only 13 of 3003 voted in Chapel Hill’s affluent Country Club precinct on the east side of UNC. That’s a dismal POINT 43 percent. On the bright side, almost 49 percent voted in the Weaver Dairy satellite precinct of Carol Woods, almost always Orange County’s highest.
We need to change the primary election system. We need to let citizens vote for their second choice the first time around, so our Orange county won’t have to spend nearly 90 thousand dollars to produce an secondary election where almost no one shows up. Exact figures aren’t yet available, but you can be sure this second primary cost several million dollars statewide. North Carolina did have a secondary-choice ballot for a federal court of appeals judgeship race in the 2010 general election, but that form has never apparently never been used for a primary. A few other states have tried it. Why not us?
We shouldn’t take this precious voting right so casually. If you’re registered, go ahead and make the effort to vote, every time. Early voting and absentee voting make this process easy. Your state depends on you. Your county depends on you. So the next time Election Day rolls around, even if the ballot seems as thin as the Monday morning paper, go ahead and do the right thing. VOTE!
See you in November.