Election turnout on par with expectations

Nov. 09, 2013 @ 10:58 AM

 Voter turnout was low but expected according to the Orange County Board of Elections.
Orange County board of elections director Tracy Reams said that she wasn’t surprised at the county’s 11.75 percent voter turnout.
“It was close to comparable with the last municipal election,” she said. “We normally get between 15 and 16 percent turnout.”
The 2011 municipal and school board election had 17,919 ballots cast accounting for 17.53 percent voter turnout from the 44 participating precincts.
Reams explained that odd year elections tend to have a lower turnout while those during even years can have as many at 30,000 to 50,000 voters casting ballots. This municipal election had 8,736 ballots cast.
The numbers would have been higher had it been a countywide election, Reams added, noting that many rural citizens were turned away when they attempted to vote in the municipal election because they were ineligible.
“I do wish that we had more people turn out” Tuesday, Reams said. “Overall everything went very well. It was pretty slow all day until about quarter to six when it picked up.”
A fire in Cobb Dorm on the campus of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill also caused some excitement. Cobb is a polling site. Even though the fire was contained to the attic, the entire building was evacuated because of smoke.
“We had to spring into action to find an alternate site,” Reams said. “I spoke with the board (for the board of elections) and we decided to shut down that site and move it to another building that a little less than a mile away.”
The voters affected were those from the Country Club precinct. Their polling site was relocated to the UNC General Administration building on Raleigh Road in Chapel Hill for the remainder of the election.
Reams explained that “there are emergency plans in place in case something happens at a precinct” and that when possible they try to keep the alternate site as close to the original as possible.