Early Voting For Sheriff Concludes

Early voting is closed for Orange County’s next sheriff as 298 residents cast their ballots on Friday, and 282 voted on Saturday taking the total to 1,519 for early voting.

Saturday, Orange County Commissioner Mark Dorosin told WCHL that he organized about 100 citizens to join him in voting early, and led the caravan from Chapel Hill to Hillsborough.

Charles Blackwood and David Caldwell are in the runoff for the position after the two were separated by just more than 60 votes in the May 6 Primary. Since neither received more than 40 percent of the vote, the second-place finisher—Caldwell—was able to call for the runoff.

Only the Board of Elections Headquarters took votes in the early voting process because of the historically low turnout for runoffs. However, all 44 precincts open on Election Day, Tuesday, from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Candidate Profiles

Charles Blackwood

David Caldwell


No Early Voting Friday

Don’t travel to Hillsborough Friday to place your vote for Orange County Sheriff.

Early voting for the runoff election is closed Friday for the July 4 holiday. The polls open again Monday at 9:00 a.m.; they’ll be opened each day next week until 5:00 p.m. They’ll open next Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Election Day is July 15, and all 44 precincts will open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.


NC GOP Unpopular – But Are They In Danger?

Pat McCrory is unpopular and the North Carolina General Assembly is extremely unpopular – but it doesn’t look like there will be much of a shakeup in Raleigh when North Carolinians go to vote this November.

That’s the upshot of the latest survey from Public Policy Polling, released last week.

Read the report here.

Governor McCrory’s approval rating is only 39 percent and his disapproval rating is 45 percent – marking the 12th month in a row that McCrory has been in negative territory. PPP director Tom Jensen says that may be because voters see McCrory as a weak governor: only 27 percent believe he’s calling the shots in Raleigh, while 43 percent think the General Assembly is in control. (And voters don’t see that as a good thing: only 18 percent of North Carolinians approve of the job the NCGA is doing.)

But voters disapprove of Democrats in the NCGA as much as they disapprove of Republicans – so even though the NCGA is in Republican hands, there doesn’t appear to be a groundswell of support for Democrats yet. Republicans actually lead a generic legislative ballot 43-41, which Jensen says would give the GOP essentially the same majority for the next two years that it enjoys today. (That’s in spite of the fact that most of the policies being passed in the House and Senate are themselves unpopular as well.)

Tom Jensen joined Aaron Keck on the Tuesday afternoon news to discuss the poll.

As for the 2016 election, Jensen says to expect some close races: McCrory currently holds a 44-42 lead over attorney general Roy Cooper, the presumptive Democratic challenger (owing partly to Cooper’s low name recognition, Jensen says), while Hillary Clinton leads the most likely Republican candidates in the presidential race by equally narrow margins.


Let The Voting Begin

The polls are open.

Close to 6,000 people cast their ballots early, showing increased interest in this mid-term election with tight local and national battles.

Click Here For Voting Information (Find Your Precinct)

Tune in to 97.9 FM WCHL Tuesday for exclusive election coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. Ron Stutts will be joined by Aaron Keck and Elizabeth Friend as well as special guests: Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Orange County Democratic Chair Matt Hughes, and Public Policy Polling Director Tom Jensen.

WCHL will bring you the numbers live once the polls close at 7:30 p.m. You can also stay up to date on all the races with our Election Central. And, tweet about the races using #2014OCPrimary and follow @WCHL and @Chapelboro on Twitter for all the latest.


Early Voting Final

The final day of early voting was by far the most popular as more than 1100 people cast their ballots.

In all, close to 6,000 people voted early for the Primary Election, which takes place Tuesday. The early voting results will be the first to be posted by the Board of Elections, which go live with the absentee ballots at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when the polls close.

The most popular location for early voting this year was the Board of Elections headquarters in Hillsborough. It saw more than 1800 ballots cast. The Seymour Senior Center came in second with 1,677, and Carrboro Town Hall came in third with 1,512.

The North Carolina Hillel Center, which was the closest voting location to campus, only saw 504 votes cast and Master’s Garden only saw 204 votes in the nine-day early voting period.

The Orange County Sheriff race could see a runoff election if the person with the most votes doesn’t receive more than 40 percent of the votes. However, if he does, he will most likely win the Sheriff’s seat since there are no Republican opponents on the ballot.

The other seats that have only seen Democrats declare are the Orange County Board of Commissioners At-Large and District 2 chairs, Register of Deeds, and four Orange County School Board seats. The Carrboro Board of Aldermen special election is also taking place Tuesday.

Voting Information


State Democratic Party Chair Pleased with Election Results

North Carolina – Voter turnout this election year was low, but that won’t stop members of the Democratic Party from making bold predictions about their opponents’ futures.

***Listen to the Story***

Randy Voller is the Chair of the North Carolina State Democratic Party, and he says he and his party’s supporters should be pleased with last week’s election results.

“We pretty much swept all the races across the state, and in the big cities,” Voller says.

Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham, and Sanford are a few cities included on his list of successes for the Democratic Party in this year’s municipal elections. So what went right for the candidates dressed in blue?

“Tuesday night was a referendum on what the mood of the electorate is in our cities,” Voller says, “The mood was to elect democrats and democrat city counsels across the state, especially in our bigger cities from Asheville to Wilmington.”

Voller says that mood was set by both federal and state government actions and events.He says the government shutdown and structural issues nationally had an effect on this election.

But Voller says events closer to home, within North Carolina’s state government, had a heavy influence on voters’ decisions as well.

“I think the interference in local control by the general assembly probably was on a lot of people’s minds,” Voller says, “There are a number of places where the general assembly got involved in local issues which traditionally they would not have done.”

Voller says he thinks the results in this election are foreshadowing future setbacks for opponents of the Democratic Party.

“I think what happened in Charlotte, where the republicans invested heavily and lost, is a bell-weather for 2014,” Voller says. And he has a message for voters not following his flock.

“If your stance is, ‘I don’t believe in government, or government doesn’t work, or we should privatize government,’ you’re probably on the defense right now,” Voller says.


The Polls Are Open

ORANGE COUNTY – Forty-four locations are now open in Orange County accepting your ballots.

Twenty-four candidates are seeking 15 seats including the three mayoral candidates who are running unopposed, and WCHL has a profile of each candidate.

Visit WCHL and Chapelboro.com’s Election Central for a profile and a full interview with each candidate. There you can also find the precinct list for your location to vote.

The polls are open until 7:30 p.m. WCHL’s exclusive Election Day coverage beings at 7:00 p.m. with special guests including host of Who’s Talking, D.G. Martin, Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, director of Public Policy Polling, Tom Jensen, and former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird. We’ll also be talking with people at the polls after they’ve voted during the Evening News with Aaron Keck, and we’ll be speaking with the candidates themselves.

Get Your Voting District Information


OC Board Of Elections Director Lays Out Voting Changes

CHAPEL HILL- Board of Elections Director Tracy Reams came before Orange County Commissioners last week to update officials on the many recent changes to state election law.

All voters must provide photo ID by 2016, Reams said, but the process of educating voters about the new law will start next year.

“We will be required to ask people ‘Do you have ID?’” said Reams. “They won’t be required to provide it in 2014, but we have to ask if they have it. And if they do not they will have to sign a declaration to let us know they do not have it.”

While the voter ID law has received much attention both locally and nationally, Reams says other, less publicized provisions of House Bill 589 will have a significant impact on local voters.

Beginning in January of 2014, a new rule prohibits voters who go to the wrong precinct from casting provisional ballots. Reams said all voters who ask will be handed provisional ballots, but the votes won’t be counted.

“If a voter went to another precinct and they were not assigned that precinct, they were allowed to vote a provisional ballot,” said Reams. “With the enactment of House Bill 589, if anyone votes outside their correct precinct we cannot count that ballot for any contest at all.”

And Reams said the timing of North Carolina’s presidential primary is now wholly dependent on when South Carolinians go to the polls.

“We will now be required to follow what South Carolina does. If they hold their primary prior to the first Monday in May, then we have to hold our primary the Tuesday following them,” said Reams. “The past four to six primaries at least, they’ve held their primary in January or February. That tells us that more than likely we’re going to have a primary in February or March. So we will probably be early voting over the Christmas holidays.”

Though it’s too early to say how much that will cost, she told commissioners the expense will be significant.

“It will be an additional cost for the county, because we’ll have to hold a presidential primary in addition to all the other primaries that will be held, as traditionally, in May.”

In addition, the option to vote a straight party ticket has now been removed from ballots, and the process for requesting and filling out absentee ballots has changed.

Commissioner Mark Dorosin called the new rules an effort by the Republican-led General Assembly to disenfranchise voters.

“Clearly what’s happening here is an attempt to suppress voter turnout,” said Dorosin. “We had a very high turnout in early voting in the last two presidential elections, so that’s been cut. We had a tremendous amount of same-day registrations, so that’s been cut.”

Board Chair Barry Jacobs thanked the Orange County Board of Elections for what he called their bi-partisan spirit of cooperation. Currently the three-member board is comprised of one Democrat and two Republicans, as appointed by the state Board of Elections.

In light of the many changes that will impact local voters, Jacobs encouraged the board to seek extra funding for voter outreach.

“If you need more assistance, if the Board of Elections thinks of ways you would like to be more creative to try and reach voters, please tell Miss Reams and have her ask it as part of the budget process,” said Jacobs.  “There is nothing more important in a democracy than people having the opportunity to cast their ballot.”

You can read the full text of House Bill 598 here:


And the report presented to the Board of Commissioners here:


Orange County Board of Elections website: http://www.co.orange.nc.us/elect/index.asp


National Broadcaster Reacts to NC Voter ID

NEW YORK –If you listen to WCHL in the afternoon, you’re likely to hear national radio talk show host Ed Schultz, and if you listened on Tuesday, Schultz once again took time to focus on North Carolina—this time, the state’s new voter I.D. law.

Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill into law on Monday which, among other things, requires voters to show a government-issued photo I.D. before voting. Schultz points out that this is the first bill dealing with voting signed into law since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act.

“North Carolina has been the first state to step forward and do something which I consider to be very radical, on new voting restrictions,” Schultz says.

Schultz was joined by Bob Shrum, a Democratic strategist and a senior fellow at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Schrum says that North Carolina’s voting reform was passed to limit the voting of individuals who are less likely to support Republicans in elections.

“They are losing the battle for the future demographics of America. They’re losing young people, they’re losing minorities,” Shrum says. “They’re going to try to hold this off for a while, hold off the demographic wave, by keeping people from voting.”

Schultz and Shrum both particularly focused on a part of North Carolina’s new voting law that prevents 17-year-olds who would be 18 by Election Day from preregistering, which Shrum says is unconstitutional.

“They don’t want young people to vote because the Republican Party has lost young people. It’s lost young people because of its position on social issues. It’s lost young people because of its position on student loans and economic fairness,” Shrum says. “You just go down the list.”

Before the Supreme Court’s decision in June, North Carolina would have needed federal approval before it implemented changes to voting such as these.

The Justice Department still has the authority to sue states if it believes those states are passing discriminatory voting policies, and on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Kay Hagan sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to sue to prevent North Carolina’s voting law from taking effect.


NAACP Pressing Legal Challenge After McCrory Quietly Signs Sweeping Voting Reform Bill

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The NAACP and others are pressing ahead with a lawsuit after Governor Pat McCrory quietly signed into law a Republican-supported measure that makes sweeping changes in how and when North Carolina residents can cast their ballots.

Within hours of Monday’s signing, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it and two other groups had filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation.

There was no formal ceremony marking the bill signing. Gov. McCrory’s press office sent out a statement saying he signed the legislation, and also posted a 95-second message on YouTube giving his reasons. It would take effect in 2016.

Republicans have said the legislation is meant to prevent voter fraud, which they claim is both rampant and undetected. But non-partisan voting rights groups, Democrats and libertarians suggested the true goal is to suppress voter turnout, especially among blacks, the young, the elderly and the poor.