As expected, early voting ended with a flurry of voters, bringing the total to just short of 1,700 people who cast their ballots leading up to Tuesday’s primary election.
According to numbers compiled by the Sampson Board of Elections, the early voting period saw 1,699 total voters from April 19-May 5. Of that number, there were 991 registered Democrats, 705 Republicans and three Libertarians.
Further breaking down the voter makeup, 1,012 were white and 645 were black. There were also 20 American Indian voters, along with 13 “other” and eight “undetermined.” There were 1,010 females and 682 males, as well as seven others listed as “undetermined.”
About a third of that total number of voters filled out their ballots in the waning days of the early voting period, from the end of the day Wednesday to the end of the abbreviated Saturday window that closed the one-stop period. There were 119 people who voted in a three-hour window on Saturday, the lone day offered on the weekend.
There are a couple of packed races, including for the Sampson County Clerk of Superior Court. There has been discussion of a potential second primary — or runoff — which is conducted to determine which of the top vote-getters in the first primary will be awarded the party nomination for an office.
However, recent N.C. legislation will essentially award the office to the top vote-getter as long as they get more than 30 percent of the total vote. Wording of the fairly new legislation, provided by Sampson Board of Elections director Ashley Tew, notes that the nominations in primary elections shall be determined by a substantial plurality of the votes cast, a benchmark that now sits at 30 percent. That substantial plurality benchmark previously stood at 40 percent.
“Any excess of the sum so ascertained shall be a substantial plurality, and the aspirant who obtains a substantial plurality shall be declared the nominee,” the legislation states. “If two candidates receive a substantial plurality, the candidate receiving the highest vote shall be declared the nominee.”
The same would hold true for the similarly packed race for Sampson County Board of Education, which has seven people vying for four board seats.
“If more candidates obtain a substantial plurality than there are positions to be filled, those having the highest vote (equal to the number of positions to be filled) shall be declared the nominees,” the law states.
Voting on Tuesday (today) will take place from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Sampson County’s 23 precincts.
Those with questions about the election, or to locate your precinct, can call the Sampson County Board of Elections, at 910-592-5796, or visit the local Board of Elections through the county’s site, at sampsonnc.com. Those interested can also see The Independent’s April 24 issue for a comprehensive candidate Q&A session with the candidates involved in Tuesday’s primary.
There are a number of contested races, including those on both sides of the ticket for Sampson County Clerk of Superior Court — four Republicans and three Democrats — and a non-partisan Sampson County Board of Education, which also has seven total candidates vying for four seats.
Democratic primaries for sheriff, the Sampson County Board of Commissioners’ fifth district, as well as both N.C. House seats and the U.S. House post encompassing Sampson are also on tap.
Republicans Barbara Moore, Chris Fann, Chris Driver and current Clerk of Superior Court Dwight S. Williams Jr. are all vying for the Clerk’s post. Williams was appointed to the post following former Clerk of Court Norman Wayne Naylor’s retirement and is filling his unexpired term, which runs out in November. Democrats Jerry Bradshaw, Brent Baggett and Tammy Grady are challenging each other for their party’s nomination.
In the sheriff’s race, Democrats Freddie Butler and Kemely Pickett will face off against each other, with the winner attempting to unseat Sheriff Jimmy Thornton, who is seeking election to his fifth term.
On the Sampson Board of Commissioners, the District 5 seat is up for grabs, with Albert Kirby stepping down from his post earlier this year following his appointment to a judicial post.
Democrat Thaddeus L. Godwin Sr. was sworn in as District 5 appointee in February, filing to seek election to the post two days before his official installation on the board to fill Kirby’s unexpired term. Godwin will face off against fellow Democrat Willie R. Moore in the District 5 primary, the only race being contested in the May 8 primary.
The Sampson County Schools Board of Education and Clinton City Schools Board of Education are non-partisan races. The county race is hotly-contested, the city’s is not.
On the county side, the terms of four board members are expiring, including Mary B. Brown, Telfair Simpson, Dwain Sinclair and Kimberly Schmidlin. Only Schmidlin is seeking to retain her post, along with a slew of newcomers, including Daryll Warren, Sonya Powell, Janice Williams, Bradley Jackson, Shea Autry and Robert Burley Jr.
On the city side, Carol Worley and Georgina Zeng are poised to retain their posts, while former CCS Superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount is expected to take the third and final spot, filing at the last minute on the final day of February. They are the only three candidates to fill the three available spots, with Randy Barefoot not seek reelection.
In the N.C. House of Representatives, Democrats Raymond Smith Jr. and Eugene Pearsall will face off for the District 21 seat, which includes portions of Sampson, Duplin and Wayne, with Republican challenger Robert Freeman Sr. awaiting the winner.
Martin (Tony) Denning will run on the Democratic ticket for District 22, which consists of most of Sampson and Bladen counties and a small portion of Johnston. Denning will face fellow Democrat Lawrence Aycock, with the winner meeting incumbent Rep. William Brisson, who underwent a midterm party swap from Democrat to Republican back in the fall. He is seeking his seventh term.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.