DECISIVE DAY: Primary election determines three Durham school board seats

May. 06, 2014 @ 08:50 AM

If early voter turnout in Durham is any indication, Tuesday may prove a busy day at the polls.

Michael Perry, director of the Durham County Board of Elections, said that early voting this year “blew away” results of a similar midterm primary election in 2010.
That year, 2,391 out of 164,296 voters – about 1.4 percent – voted early in the primary.
This year, 7,026 out of 201,000 voters – about 3.5 percent – took advantage of an abbreviated early voting period. That’s more than double the participation from four years ago.
“It’s a big improvement,” Perry said. “We also had some concern going into the election because of the reduction of days, with the legislature taking a week off early voting. It actually seems to have worked out better because we had more sites and extended hours into the evening so people had ample time to vote after work.”
Polls open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Durham and Orange counties. Busiest times tend to be 7 to 9 a.m., during lunch and from 5 p.m. until polls close, according to election officials.
“I think it’ll be decent turnout based on what we saw in early voting,” Perry said.
Local contests for Durham Public Schools Board of Education, sheriff, district attorney and judicial seats appear to be major motivators for voters coming to the polls, he said.
For some races, this primary election determines who appears on the ballot in November. But today’s vote could put at least two and possibly three new faces on the DPS school board, with incumbents in districts 2 and 3 stepping down and challengers hoping to unseat Omega Curtis Parker in District 1.
This primary also could put Sheriff Michael Andrews – the hand-picked successor of former Sheriff Worth Hill – closer to his first elected term in office. Or voters may decide that Richard Buchanan or Clarence Birkhead deserve the job more.
For district attorney, if one of the three candidates for the post – Roger Echols, Brian Aus and Mitchell Garrell -- gets at least 40 percent of the vote, they’ll be on the November general-election ballot to face any unaffiliated or write-in candidates that might qualify later this summer.
The top two vote-getters in nonpartisan judicial races go on the November ballot.
Before heading to the polls, voters should confirm their polling place. Provisional voting laws have changed, so ballots cast outside the proper precinct won’t be counted unless the voters in question moved to a new precinct.
Although photo identification isn’t required for this election, voters can expect precinct officials to ask if they have proper ID for the 2016 election and, if a voter does not, officials will provide information about how to obtain a free ID.


Polls in Durham and Orange counties open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

Need voter assistance in Durham County? Call 919-560-0700. Need help in Orange County? Call 919-245-2350.


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